Le Tastevin Wine Club - Notes on Cheeses – November 15, 2017

One cheese (Gruyère) and the breads are from Whole Foods in Ann Arbor, the other cheese (Vittiano) is from Costco. No surprises tonight, but rather true-and-tried cheeses that in previous Bordeaux tastings has nicely paired.

Emmi Le Gruyère AOP Reserve(Raw cow's-milk cheese) is a cave-aged Gruyère, a cheese named after the eponymous town in Switzerland and made there since the 12th Century. Before 2001, when Gruyère gained the appellation d'origine contrôlée (AOC, now AOP) status as a Swiss cheese, some controversy existed whether French cheeses of a similar nature could also be labelled Gruyère (French Gruyère style cheeses include Comté and Beaufort). Gruyère is sweet but slightly salty, with a flavor that varies widely with age. It is often described as creamy and nutty when young, but true cave-aged Reserve Gruyere (ours is aged for about 1 year) is a classic Swiss cheese with a rich flavor unlike pre-packaged deli-style cheeses bearing its name. This cheese 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.

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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