Le Tastevin Wine Club - Notes on Cheeses – October 10, 2018

Tonight’s cheeses come from Holiday Market in Canton, MI, and the bread from Whole Foods. Without knowing in advance the offerings of tonight’s wines – specifically their cépage – it is challenging to pair with cheese. Assuming the usual varietals – Cabernet Sauvignon (dark, tannic wine with flowery fruit), Merlot (rounder and softer in the mouth than the former, juice voluptuous, fruity, grapes with relatively high sugar content), Cabernet Franc (spicy, with a nose of green, dark blue herbs, lots of tannin, somewhat spicy) and Petit Verdot (plentiful color, tannin and floral aromas of violet) – I’ve paired two cheeses with a rich mouthfeel: Comté and a Brie knockoff.

Comté (raw cow’s milk) from Charles Arnaud, the only dairy in France to be awarded the Grand Prix d’Excellence by the Concours Général de Paris for consistently producing exceptional cheese. For over 100 years, Arnaud cheeses have been traditionally matured cheeses at Fort des Rousses, a fort originally was built by Napolean over 200 years ago was converted into a purpose built cheese maturing facility by the Arnaud family in 1995. This cheese is dense in texture and complex in flavor and aroma, each individual wheel uniquely showing a set of nuances depending on the season. At room temperature, this cheese should exhibit intense nuttiness, and a buttery flavor and smooth finish that should pair nicely with our sexy wines.

Saint Angel (pasteurized cow’s milk) is a triple-cheese ultra-filtrated (like d’Affinois) modern cheese in which a percentage of water is removed from the milk that is in turn concentrated into heavy cream, increasing the fat content to 75%, from which the cheesemaking process continues. Unlike Saint Andre, Saint Angel is molded into a square and usually sold cut into triangle shapes. Being a bit thinner than Saint Andre, Saint Angel will ripen to the center, so the entire cheese is a glorious, gooey, almost runny mass that will require you keep your Lipitor handy. So much so that the package includes a stiff plastic strip along the cut edge to keep it from bulging and smearing onto its wrapping. The description of the flavor on Fromagerie Guilloteau's website states it has " ... an inoffensive hint of mushroom-like flavor that becomes richer with age." There might also be a tangy hint, with some fried egg. The difference in flavor between Saint Angel and the others is attributable to the addition of geotrichum mold spores to the white, fluffy penicillium molds used to ripen most Bries. Geotrichum is used more commonly on thick, runny French stinkers such as Epoisses and Chaource.

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