Le Tastevin Wine Club - Notes on Cheeses – March 20, 2024

The cheeses and salami are from York Food and Drink, the bread from Plum Market in Ann Arbor. The cheese tonight was selected as they should pair nicely with our full-bodied, rich wines that make up the splendor of Châteauneuf-du-Pape.

Piave is made from a cooperative dairy in the province of Belluno, north of Venice, where farmers pool their milk and make the cheese jointly. It is a relatively recent additon to Italy's cheese lineup, debuting in 1960, but is now the area's best-selling cheese. Piave is a full-favored cheese similar to, but lighter, younger and milder, than Parmigiano-Reggiano. Piave is sold in three stages: fresco (fresh) - 20-60 days old; mezzano (semi-aged) - 60-180 days; and vecchio (aged) - >180 days. Our version is the vecchio production by Lattebusche that has been aged 12 months. Piave shows the beginnings of crystallization but is not as hard and crumbly or as salty as Parmigiano. Piave has an affinity for crusty bread and both red and white wine, going best with medium- and full-bodied red wines such as Barbaresco, Shiraz or fruity Merlot.

    "Here is a cheese with a heart of gold - hard and rough on the surface and sweetly nutty underneath. With its dry, cruncy texture, its flavors of tropical fruits and almonds, and its long sweet finish, this popular favorite is likened to the King of Italian Cheese - Parmigiano-Reggiano" (Murray's Cheese Handbook).

Beemster Goat's Milk Gouda (pasteurized Goat's Milk, Salt, Cheese Culture, Microbial Rennet) is the newest cheese in Beemster's award-winning lineup. In Holland, there are select farmers in the Beemster polder who have always kept a few goats to satisfy local residents who want fresh goats' milk. The Beemster goats graze on the same land as their cows, making their milk just as unique and flavorful. Beemster uses their artisan cheese making techniques to craft a goat's milk cheese. Aged for 4 months, this cheese exhibits a wonderfully clean, sweet taste and smooth texture. Decidedly different from fresh chevre, this cheese should also pair well with tonight's wines and make a nice change from a usual gouda that follows.

Old Amsterdam Aged Gouda (pasteurized cow's milk). When the Zuiderzee was closed off in 1932, the Westland family was forced to abandon the fisherman lifestyle. Inspired by the delicious cheeses that their mother brought back from Amsterdam, the young Westland brothers opened a small cheese shop on the Lijnbaansgracht in Amsterdam. Years later, after a tireless quest that even took them outside the Netherlands, the brothers were finally able to recreate the taste of their youth. Old Amsterdam was officially introduced in the Netherlands in 1985. Soon after, this unique cheese became a massive success among domestic and international cheese lovers. This gouda has a firm texture, deep color, and smooth, rich and robust flavor. Aged Gouda, a washed-curd cheese, is always made from standardized milk. It has a minimum butterfat content of 48% (Edam cheese, a close relative, has a butterfat content of 40%). This cheese is ripened on wooden shelves to form its typical semi-hard structure, with a deep caramel color. The body of the cheese may contain tiny holes, called "eyes". In addition, crunchy white protein (or "ripening") crystals appear during the ripening process. Westland uses taste and quality to determine when Old Amsterdam Classic is perfectly ripened; on average this takes approximately 8 months. The decision to hold or release a particular batch of Old Amsterdam rests with the cheese makers.

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. (EB)

Page last updated: May 10, 2024 (EB)

©2024 Le Tastevin wine club
Members: Please contact the webmaster for updates and changes to information contained in this web site.