Le Tastevin Wine Club - Notes on Cheeses – March 04, 2015

Tonight's cheese and baguettes are from Whole Foods. Both of these firm cheeses were made from pasteurized cow's milk, and are club favorites, having been tasted at Le Tastevin on October 16, 2013 (for the Australian Shiraz tasting).

Piave is made from a cooperative dairy in the province of Belluno, north of Venice, where farmers pool their milk and make the cheese jointly. It is a relatively recent additon to Italy's cheese lineup, debuting in 1960, but is now the area's best-selling cheese. Piave is a full-favored cheese similar to, but lighter, younger and milder, than Parmigiano-Reggiano. Piave is sold in three stages: fresco (fresh) - 20-60 days old; mezzano (semi-aged) - 60-180 days; and vecchio (aged) - >180 days. Our version is the vecchio production by Lattebusche that has been aged 12 months. Piave shows the beginnings of crystallization but is not as hard and crumbly or as salty as Parmigiano. Piave has an affinity for crusty bread and both red and white wine, going best with medium- and full-bodied red wines such as Barbaresco, Shiraz or fruity Merlot.

    "Here is a cheese with a heart of gold - hard and rough on the surface and sweetly nutty underneath. With its dry, cruncy texture, its flavors of tropical fruits and almonds, and its long sweet finish, this popular favorite is likened to the King of Italian Cheese - Parmigiano-Reggiano" (Murray's Cheese Handbook).

Unikaas Reserve Aged Gouda - a traditional cow's milk Gouda (pronounced Howda) from the Netherlands. Uniekaas is the country's largest cheese producer. but they still hand make several Artisanal cheeses such as this reserve. Our Gouda tonight has been aged 18 months, which makes it not as hard and crumbly as the 3-5 year aged versions. This is a firm, textured Gouda with a mild salt flavor and a perfect hazelnut finish. As Gouda ages it gains a deep golden color with hints of the flavor of butterscotch, and properly aged it is grainy, salty, tangy and is somewhat sharp with a long finish. Gouda pairs best with red wines having a toasty, raisiny quality such as the Châteauneuf-du-Papeof tonight's tasting and merlot-based wines.

    "If you like a firm, dense, crystalline almost crumbly cheese with deep mouthwatering flavors and a lingering aftertaste, this is the one for you" (Cheese: A Connoisseur's Guide).

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