Le Tastevin Wine Club - Notes on Cheeses – November 14, 2018

Tonight’s cheeses come from The Cheese Lady in Farmington Hills, MI, and the bread from Whole Foods. Assuming the usual varietals – Cabernet Sauvignon (dark, tannic wine with flowery fruit) and Merlot (rounder and softer in the mouth than the former, juice voluptuous, fruity, grapes with relatively high sugar content), I’ve elected again to pair tonight's wines with three cheeses with rich mouthfeel, but with a variety of flavors.

Gouda (pasteurized cow’s milk) from Landana is a 1000-day aged cheese that is formed into 20 pound wheels (9 kg.) that are turned daily. These wheels spend about 2.7 years untreated on wooden shelves, where it looses about a quarter of its moisture content as flavor intensifies. It is about 35% fat. A bit softer than Parmesan, is similar to Beemster XO, it should be golden brown with a firm, salty sweet, nutty and caramel flavor more pronounced in thin slices. A salt attack gently builds up as it melts in the mouth. There might be small white spots on the cheese, which are mineral and protein crystals. Landana is now owned by the Vandersterre Group.

Barbers Vintage Reserve Cheddar (pasteurized cow's milk) is made in Somerset less than 5 miles outside of Cheddar, England. (There is only one cheese facility left within the village borders). This cheese, made by the Barber family for six generations since 1833, is creamy with a distinct bite and smooth finish. They've created a specialist laboratory dedicated to the preservation of natural mixed cultures. The cultures were first developed generations ago from natural bacteria found in local milk. After being swapped among local cheesemakers for many years, they were saved from extinction, refined to isolate the best strains and are now preserved for continued use. Barber's is the only local cheesemaker still using these cultures in the production of block cheddar. In cooperation with the "West Country Farmhouse Cheddar" PDO restrictions, Barber's cheddars are made only with local milk, on the farm using traditional methods. The curds are stacked by hand to ensure that the right 'cheddaring' effect is achieved and all cheeses are assessed by a professional grader to ensure a high level of quality before release. Barber's 1833 Vintage Reserve Cheddar, their flagship cheese, is chosen from Barber's cheddars that have been carefully selected for their keeping qualities, as is aged for a minimum of 24 months. Tasting Notes Barber’s 1833 is a creamy, sharp cheddar, which has both savory and naturally sweet notes. Hints of caramel and toffee can be detected.

Cantar de Covadonga (pasteurized cow/sheep milk) is a blue cheese from just west and north of the Picos de Europa in northern Spain. The original Latin name was “Cova Domenica”, meaning Cave of the Lady. In the course of years, “Cova Domenica” was abbreviated to Covadonga. The place is dedicated to the cult of the Virgin of Covadonga. The region of Asturias is particularly known by its wide range of cheeses, specially the blue ones. Cantar de Covadonga is a blue veined soft cheese made from a blend of selected cow’s and sheep’s milk. It is white, crumbly and creamy, and slightly moist. For 3-4 months the Penicillum roqueforti molds make their way through the cheese's texture to create its rich pronounced flavor. Expect a moderate blue flavor with a pronounced tangy, creamy attack.


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