Le Tastevin Wine Club - Notes on Cheeses – November 20, 2013

Upland Cheese Company Pleasant Ridge Reserve (Raw cow's milk cheese). They craft only one cheese at Upland's, and it is wonderfully made in mountain style (Beaufort is the model). Pleasant Ridge Reserve is made from the raw milk of nine breeds of cows that graze in a variety of pastures, ensuring richness and a complex flavor. Aged 12 to 18 months, the cheese develops a deep and rich nose. The sweet, nutty flavor is accented by just the right amount of acidity, and the finish is long and satisfying. Pleasant Ridge is arguably one of America's best cheeses, having won numerous Best in Show and Grand Champion awards, the only American Cheese to win both awards.

Reserve Cave-Aged Gruyere (Raw cow's-milk cheese). True cave-aged Reserve Gruyere (ours is aged over 1 year) is a classic Swiss cheese with a rich flavor unlike the many pre-packaged deli-style cheeses bearing its name. Its history dates back to the thirteenth century, and it is still made in 80 pound wheels requiring 88 gallons of milk per wheel. Gruyere is a semi-hard cheese which melts in your mouth to reveal a nutty, slightly sweet taste with a complex mush roomy flavor with elements of fruits and nuts and a long finish. All 3 of these cheeses are most flavorful when tasted in small slices, melting on the tongue.

Sartori Bella Vittiano Merlot is an American Parmesan style cheese made in Wisconsin but which traces its heritage all the way to Asiago, Italy, where its founder Paul Sartori emigrated from. Sartori's cheeses have won over 100 awards, both domestic and foreign, for their uniqueness. Bella Vitano is an aged cheese (1 year) soaked in various liquids, ours in Merlot. Wine soaked cheeses have been popular in Italy (Ubraico) and Spain (Drunken Cow) for many years. Aside from hints of berry and plum, derived from the Merlot, the flavor of Bella Vitano is closest to aged, premium Parmesan, but more complex. While it has a the Parmesan flavor with much less salt, it is smooth on the palate with a creaminess and richness like a full-flavored cheddar, and salty-sweet crystals typically found in aged Gouda. "This is a smooth, creamy, rich, nutty, salty-sweet caramely good cheese", which should pair well with the fruit in the Bordeaux wines.

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