Le Tastevin Wine Club - Notes on Cheeses – November 08, 2023

The cheeses are from the York Food and Drink as well as Plum Market in Ann Arbor. The cheddar has a somewhat sharp, long finish, and the Brie-like double-cream cheese have a low-salt context, both should pair nicely with red wines that have a toasty, raisiny quality such as cabernet- and merlot-based Bordeaux's of tonight's tasting. The French "epi" loaves are once again from The Give Thanks Bakery in Rochester (and, once again, thank you Ron!).

Grafton Village Classic Reserve Extra Sharp Vermont Cheddar - a highly acclaimed cheese made by one of America's finest cheesemakers, and is considered the standard-bearer of Vermont Cheeses, even better than the renowned Shelburne Farms Cheddar. Grafton Village Cheese began in 1892 as a cooperative but burned down in 1912. During the mid-1960s the Windham Foundation restored the group in its philothrophic endeavors to preserve Vermont's tradition of rural, agricultural communities. It is made in the old traditional artisanal way, from local Jersey cows, in small batches with long aging. Our is aged over 2 years. It is rindless, undyed and crumbly, and goes well with fruity, Merlot-based wines. Grafton is a consistently award-winning cheese, considered by experts to be an American treasure. Aroma should be sharp and sweet, with a compact texture melting on the palate and flavors that are tangy, lactic and sour creamy.

No Brie tonight, but tonight we're presenting two soft cheeses made by Fromi, a specialist cheese distributor based in Kehl, Germany. It is only a stone’s throw (well, maybe a catapult) away across the Rhein from the French city of Strasbourg, across the border. Subsequently, its strategic location has allowed the company to build a strong relationship with several French artisanal dairies. As a culmination of this strong bond, they launched their d’Argental range of quality French cheeses in 1985. Their d’Argental range of quality French cheeses also includes the very popular Vacherousse, Brebirousse, Chèvre and Crémeux, the first two of which are presented.

Vacherousse d’Argental (pasteurized cow's mik) is a double-cream cheese, soft washed rind cheese selected by Fromi in France’s Jura Mountains. Vacherousse means “Red Cow” in France and it is a very fitting name for this gorgeous soft cheese due to its orange natural rind. Production of Vacherousse begins with the young wheels being washed in a brine and annatto mixture. Afterwards, the cheesemaker sets aside the wheels for 3 weeks to mature. During that time, a thin velvety white mold forms on the surface . The mold provides a striking textural contrast with the bright orange rind underneath. The end product has a sticky rind and soft oozy center with mellow flavor and aroma. It is reminiscent of fresh wet grass with a hint of meatiness. Moreover, its texture is so creamy that it melts like butter, both on the board and in your mouth. The rind is slightly earthy and palatable.

Brebirousse d’Argental (pasteurized sheep's milk) is a soft washed rind cheese from the Auvergne Rhône-Alpes region of France. Undoubtedly, in a region that is famous for cow’s milk cheeses, this sheep’s milk washed rind stands out from the crowd. As for the Brebirousse, artisanal cheesemakers in Auvergne use pasteurized sheep’s milk to make this annatto-washed wonder. Fittingly, its name means “red ewe” in French. Unsurprisingly, a ripe Brebirousse has a spectacular oozy texture and a dreamy grassy aroma, with a flavor palette oscillating between sweet and savory, with nutty and creamy notes.

Page last updated: May 10, 2024 (EB)

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