Le Tastevin Wine Club - Notes on Cheeses – April 26, 2017

Tonight's cheese and baguettes are from Whole Foods. In the past, Comté and Morbier have been offered and warmly welcomed at our Burgundy red tastings. Comté has been offered plenty of times, so I decided for something else, which led me to look for Morbier, last offered at the April 17, 2013 tasting. Unfortunately, true Morbier isn’t available in the US due to FDA restrictions on supposed “safe” levels of E. coli. So, alternatives are in order: one English, another from the south of France. My philosophy tonight is that these cheese flavors should echo – not mirror – the lighter body, higher acidity characteristic of many of the best Burgundy wines of tonight’s tasting.

Gabietou (Herve Mons) is the nearest I could get to Abbaye de Belloc, which is a mixed cow/sheep semi-firm cheese. Our cheese tonight hails from the Pyrenees Mountains from the south of France, and is made from 2/3 cow’s and 1/3 sheep’s milk. Both species frolic and graze on wild grasses and flowers of higher elevations of mountain slopes, and the collected milk is aged for only 4 months in France. It is then imported into the USA, where it is aged on wooden planks in a climate-controlled environment under supervision of the Herve Mons team. There is a wonderful sweetness and texture to this cheese, with flavors of earth, caramel and hazelnut that melt on the tongue.

Ford Farm’s “Seaside” (Ashley Chase Estate) English cheddar is a pasteurized cow’s milk. This is probably identical to their renowned “Coastal Cheddar” cheese, first introduced in 2000, that they make for Whole Foods. This is a medium-aged (15 months) cheese from the Dorset Region of southern England (East of Exeter, West of Southampton). This is a hand-made traditional farmhouse cheddar that combines the creamy sharpness of some of our favorite cheddars with the crumble and tang of a Pamigiano. The flavor is somewhere in between, the cheese has a soft, crunchy texture due to the aging process that favors the formation of small pockets of calcium lactate and sodium crystals. This is a sharp, crystalline cheese that’s a nice textural counterpoint to the other cheese. It may be a stretch for tonight’s Pinot Noir, but I thought, if sliced thinly, the flavors will not be too intense like other aged cheddars we’ve sampled, and will complement our wines.

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