Bob's Cheese and Wine Blog

My world of cheese and wine

Archive for June, 2009

Dante – Wisconsin Sheep’s Milk Cheese

Posted by fromagebob on June 29, 2009

Dante is a seasonal sheep’s milk cheese, made by the Wisconsin Sheep Dairy Cooperative. The cheese is made between February and September. The milk comes from flocks located in Wisconsin, Minnesota, Nebraska, and Iowa. The ewes are pasture fed for most of the year. The cheese is aged for at least six months. An extended aging process develops toasted nut and brown butter aromas, and gives a sweetness to the cheese. I find that it has a nice, rich, flavor.

The paste is a gold-ivory color, shifting to light brown near the rind. The color is probably from the carotene in the pasture diet of the animals. The cheese is coated with an edible plastic rind, which I’m not particularly fond of – it gives the cheese a strange texture – but it’s easily peeled off. The flavor is quite nice. Near the center, I find a slightly salty-sweet flavor with grassy notes and a touch of butter. Near the rind, the flavor deepens, giving a hint of pecans and brown butter. Allowing the paste to linger and dissolve in the mouth gives a more intense buttery flavor, with a little lemony taste at the end. The finish is nice, and lingers pleasantly for a while.

I tried this cheese with some Gnarly Head Old Vine Zin. This is a value wine that I quite enjoy. It’s not the greatest zin, but it’s a pleasant drink, and a nice day-to-day wine. It has a nose of chocolate and berries, with spicy undertones. There’s a hint of white pepper, vanilla, and a little tobacco. The flavor is a little tannic, with white pepper, chocolate, dark fruit, and berries. The finish is medium, and pleasant.

It’s a nice combo with the cheese. The cheese brings out the fruit in the wine quite a bit. The wine makes the cheese taste a little sweeter, especially on the finish. At the first hit, the cheese feels saltier, but that dissipates into a pleasant combo. I wouldn’t say that either elevates, but I would certainly give this a +1 as a paring.

Other scores for this cheese with some recent parings:

Wine Score Comment
The Clif Family Climber White Blend: -1 Developed a metallic taste. Not pleasant
Mattebella Chardonnay: 0 Not bad, not great, but it worked. Nice for a party
Buehler Russian River Chardonnay: -1 Sour taste, not pleasant at all.
Clif Gary’s Improv (Syrah): +1 Nice. The wine made the cheese better, the cheese didn’t hurt the wine
Santa Carolina Carminere: 0 OK, neither was hurt, neither was improved.
Dracula’s Blood: -1 Sucked <g>
Santa Carolina Cab: -1 The cheese killed the wine
Kits Killer Cab: 0 Was OK. I almost gave this a -1, but the finish wasn’t bad
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Posted in Artisanal Cheese, Cheese, Sheep Cheese, US Cheese, Wine & Cheese Paring | Tagged: | Leave a Comment »

Cypress Grove Midnight Moon

Posted by fromagebob on June 22, 2009

What a GREAT wine cheese! We’ve tried it with so many different wines, and almost everything works. It’s really surprising and REALLY versatile!

Midnight Moon is from Cypress Grove Chevre, in Arcata, California, about 200 miles North of San Francisco, and about 70 miles South of the Oregon Border. Cypress Grove specializes in goat cheese (hence the name!), and is the creation of Mary Keehn, one of America’s cheese pioneers. She started raising goats in the 1970’s, then moved from cheese hobbyist to cheese producer in 1983. They make very high quality artisanal cheeses, and have won many awards. I’ve tried a number of their products, and they are really quite good. I’ve listed most of them at the end of the post – I strongly encourage you to try them!

Midnight Moon is an aged goat cheese that is made in Europe for Cypress Grove. According to their website, the cheese is aged for a minimum of 6 months, and has a pale ivory paste with a nutty, brown-buttery flavor, and some caramel notes. I find flavorful crystals in the cheese as well. The aroma is slightly herbal, with a buttery, creamy smell with a very faint sour note. It’s pleasant, and not overwhelming. I find that near the center of the wheel, the flavor is more brown-butter with a nutty hint and some herbal notes. Towards the center, it’s more sweet butter and less herbal, with a little caramel. Near the rind, it moves towards hazelnuts, butter, and caramel.

Wine parings… Wow. Tonight, I am drinking a Cervoles 2004 Spanish Red. Works great. I’ve tried this with a New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc, malbecs, cabs, and lots more. Recently at the tasting panel for Talking About Wine, I tried it with the following (using a 5-point scale, with +2 being nirvana, and -2 being barf!):

Clif Family The Climber White Blend:    +2 (delish!)

Mattebella Chardonnay:        +1 (not bad!)

Buehler Russian River Chardonnay:    0 (neutral)

Clif Family Gary’s Improv (Syrah):    +2 (great)

Santa Carolina Carminere:        +2 (yum – really improved the wine)

Dracula’s Blood (Romania):        +1 (improved the wine, thank goodness!)

Santa Carolina Cab:            0 (neutral, not bad)

Clif Family Kits Killer Cab:        0 (neutral, not bad)

The scale, if you’re interested, goes like this:

0 is neutral. Not good, not bad, edible, drinkable. Wine and cheese remain separate components, but neither harms the other

+1 is good. Better than neutral. One component elevates the other, but is not harmed or lost

+2 is great. Something new comes out of the paring – wine _+ cheese = something new, delicious.

-1 is not good. One component hurts the other, making it worse. It might not be bad, but it’s not something you’d repeat

-2 is barf. One or both components are not only destroyed, so are your taste buds!

This is similar to the scale that Max MaCalman uses in his wonderful classes at Artisanal Cheese in New York.

Cypress Grove Cheese are:

Fresh Chevre

Purple Haze

Fromage Blanc

Humbolt Fog

Bremuda Triangle

Fog Lights

Truffle Tremor

Midnight Moon

Lamb Chopper

Try them!


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Symphonie: A Galliac Wine

Posted by fromagebob on June 12, 2009

The day before we left Galliac, we stopped at a wine shop to try some wine. It had been recommended by Patricia, our hostess at La Bastide de Servidou. I like Galliac wines; they’re rustic but tasty, and very pleasant. Not expensive, and a great everyday wine. They’re impossible to find in the US, although I am trying, and – to my great distress – being in the region during a holiday, and getting Napolean’s Revenge on the only day we might have tasted just bummed me out.

However, all was not lost, as we drove into Galliac on our way back from Cordes sur Ciel. The shop is owned by a winemaker, and the tastings were of his wines. They were actually quite good, but quite tannic, which is a characteristic of Galliac wines. Myriam did not like them, but I thought they had possibilities. We bought a bottle of a more mellow wine to have with dinner, and a white that Myriam liked, and started to leave, when I remembered that Patricia had given us a coupon for a free bottle of wine.

Back I ran, and was handed a bottle of Symphonie, a white wine by Alain Gayrel. We opened in the other day with some food Myriam picked up from Daily Bread, the middle-eastern restaurant we like. I knew that Riesling was a good pairing, but figured – given the whites we had tried in France – that my Symphonie might prove up to the challenge. I was right.

The wine is a blend of Sauvignon Blanc and Mauzac, 50-50. It had a bright yellow-gold color, and a vibrant flavor. If I had to pick something close it would be a tangy Pinot Gris. The wine had the influence of the Sauvignon Blanc, but was a little fruiter and sweet, but not too sweet. There was a hint of grapefruit and citrus, but also a fleshy fruit – perhaps under-ripe peaches. I was hard pressed to pinpoint. The finish was nice, and it really went well with the food. We had spinach pie, kibbeh, labneh, hummus, and baba ganoush, with pita bread.

Gayrel’s Domaines are Les Meritz and Vigné-Laurec. He also makes Galliac reds, blending Braucol, Merlot, Syrah, and Durus. Didn’t try those, but I wouldn’t mind!

Mauzac: According to Jancis Robinsons Oxford Companion to Wine, the Mauzac grape is grown in Galliac and Limoux. It is a traditional grape of both areas, and is usually blended with Len de l’lel in Galliac, and with Chenin and Chardonnay in Limoux. Mauzac ripens latem and was traditionally picked late in the season, but is now picked earlier, giving it fewer flavors and more acidity. The grape is especially suited for sparkling wines. The grape is perhaps best known as one of the components of Blanquette de Limoux sparkling wine, which has been produced since about 1530.

Posted in French Wine, Galliac Region, Wine | Tagged: , , | Leave a Comment »