Le Tastevin Wine Club - October 15, 2014 - Notes on the Cheeses

Cheeses to pair with tonight's 1997 and 1999 Brunello Italian wines. I have selected two Italian Cheeses which have never shown up on our club's history, although they are quite common. The Parmigiano-Reggiano is often considered the greatest cheese on the planet, but I have avoided it due to its saltiness and difficulty in obtaining a high quality D.O.P. rated cheese. The Montasio is comparable to its neighbors Asagio d'Allegro and Piave, straight forward table cheeses that goes good with a smooth red wine, such as a Nebbiolo.

Montasio by Metica, D.O.P. (Mild, raw cow's milk, firm, ag~d 4-10 months) is made exclusively from the milk of dairy farms in Friulu-Venezia-Gulian alps, at the extreme northeast corner of Italy, near the city of Udine close to the border of Slovenia. Montasio is probably not at all different from the cheese produced in an abbey called Moggio beginning in the 13th century. Like most distinguished cheeses of Northern Italy, it began as a strictly alpine cheese but since the 19th century its production expanded to the valleys and surrounding areas. When young, Montasio is straw colored, pliable, aromatic and mild with grassy, fruity flavors. With age it gradually takes on deeper nutty flavors and eventually becomes hard and gratable. Quality Rating 88, Strength 3.

Parmigiano-Reggiano, Vecchio, D.O.P. (Strong, raw cow's milk, hard, aged 20-24 months) Our block was cut fresh on Monday from an 80 pound wheel by Maureen , the cheese buyer at Whole Foods. The real Parmesan is made only from cows feasting on grass within the D.O.C. controlled zone. Although the name-controlled version is just about 700 years old, the recipe goes back to the Roman empire. The paste is light ivory to straw yellow and contains small white crystals of denatured protein when properly aged. It is a cheese with a strong smell and a marvelous, rich caramelized finish. Properly aged Parmigiano dries to a crunchy perfection: nutty, spicy, salty (but not too much) and floral, with a distinct caramel finish. Great with crusty bread and round, fruity red wines. A classic cheese to pair with the Nebbiolo grape (Barolos and Babarescos). Ninety-nine percent Of the Western World uses grated Parmesan on Pasta. (Hopefully aged fresh, not Kraft) Quality Rating 97, Strength 6.


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