Le Tastevin Wine Club - Notes on Cheeses – April 24, 2019

Pinot Noir from Burgundy have flavors of ripe red berries, sweet black cherries, mushrooms and what sommeliers call forest floor, that smell you get from freshly fallen damp leaves.Sheep's milk cheeses often pair especially well with Pinot Noir, but they're not the only ones. All in all, Pinot Noir tends to be a somewhat versatile wine with cheese. The exceptions can sometimes be strong, stinky cheeses and fresh goat cheeses, which overwhelm this delicate grape. Tonight's Comté and bread comes from Whole Foods in West Bloomfield, and the Sottocenere al Tartufo and Saint Angel from Plum Market, West Bloomfield. Cheeses that I tried to find but couldn't that would have paired nicely were Abbaye de Belloc, Roucoulons and Zamarano.

Comté (raw cow’s milk) has the same sweet, nutty character that makes so many sheep's milk cheeses pair well with Pinot Noir. Aged versions of Comté that have a stronger, sharper flavor might overwhelm some Pinots, but this French cheese is often just the thing with a glass of Pinot Noir. Comté (also called Gruyère de Comté or Comte Fort Saint Antoine) is a French cheese from the Jura Massif region of Eastern France since the 13th Century. This hard mountain cheese is matured in the darkness of special caves where the cheese gets its unique fruity and salty taste, pale yellow interior color, and a texture varying from silky, flabby to crystalline. Comté is ripened for a minimum of 4 months to 18 or 24 months.

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. Real Camembert and real Brie come from completely different regions in France, they are made from the same recipe and are of similar taste. Camembert and Brie are not protected by law thus we get all sorts of cheeses that call themselves by those names that are not the real thing.

Sottocenere al Tartufo (pasteurized cow’s milk) is an Italian cheese from the northern region of Veneto, is infused with the flavor of truffles and is a good match for an earthy Burgundy. This is a creamy, labor-intensive cheese. Its name means "under ash", and is derived from the layer of ash that covers the cheese as it ages. It is aged in a coat of nutmeg, coriander, cinnamon, licorice, cloves, and fennel, the semi-soft paste is laced throughout with slivers of black truffle. Delicate, aromatic and unusual, Sottocenere is a silken indulgence.

Page last updated: May 10, 2024 (EB)