Le Tastevin Wine Club - Notes on Cheeses – September 14, 2016

Bold wines call for bold measures. Australian wines are often lush with rich fruit, and food pairings often call for creamy fat content and Omani. Tonight’s cheeses are from Whole Foods in Ann Arbor, Michigan, and the breads are from Zingerman’s bakery. New for tonight is a raisin-pecan bread that might be a nice match for one particularly tangy cheese, and Rosette de Lyon Columbus salame.

Roquefort Petite Cave (Gabriel Coulet) is made using raw sheep’s milk. All Roquefort is legally required to spend two weeks in the ‘fleurines’ or caves of Mont Combalou in Roquefort-sur-Soulzon zone of production. This is the natural dwelling place of the Penicilium roqueforti, from which most strains of blue cheese molds have been bred. After being aged in the caves, the wheels are then foil wrapped and kept for a further 10 weeks to give a 3-month minimum affinage. This cheese is smooth, sweet and buttery, with a pronounced, well-integrated blue flavor, using a traditional rennet and natural rind. Roquefort is one of the few French cheeses where consumers know the cheese producer’s name, and the quality this denotes. My tasting of Gabriel Coulet’s wonderful Roquefort the other day led me to believe this cheese, especially when allowed to slightly warm to temperature, would not meekly surrender to the bold vibrant efforts of tonight’s Australian wines. Coulet allows the wheels of this Roquefort to spend an additional week in the fleurines, allowing them to develop a deeper, fuller flavor.

Jasper Hill Cabot, cloth-bound cheddar is an American Cheese Society 2015 winner. Made from the (pasteurized) milik of a single herd of Holstein cows, and processed with vegetarian rennet, the producer allows their wheels to age for about 12-18 months. Murray’s sells this cheese and describes its flavor character as “…a delicate balance of sharpness, slight nuttiness, and a caramelized, nearly candied sweetness. We like a firm, slightly crunchy paste that's never waxy, and unfolds with layers of toasted nut and cooked fruits…” They also posit a match for fall apples and nutty brown ales, which to me argues for complementing well with the bold sweet profiles of our red bombs.

Queso de La Serena is another raw (Merino) sheep’s milk from the province of Badajoz (Extremadura) of Spain. 15 sheep are needed to produce one kilogram of this cheese that has a minimum of 55% fat. Curdled using a coagulant found in the pistils of the artichoke, the process exhibits a light bitter, slightly salty taste. The curds are then poured into molds, then salted either by rubbing dry salt onto the working surface by hand or immersing into a saline solution for a day. Aged on wooden shelves in temperature-controlled cellars (bodega), the cheese is ripened for at least 60 days with thistle rennet, resulting in a cheese packing a creamy, sharp ripe tangy punch that’s an interesting counterpoint to tonight’s cheddar.



Rosette de Lyon Columbus Salame is a California-made country style salami spiced with red wine, garlic, salt and pepper. It is sliced thin to accentuate the rich mouthfeel.

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