Bob's Cheese and Wine Blog

My world of cheese and wine

Archive for August, 2009

Clos Pegase Petite Sirah Port

Posted by fromagebob on August 30, 2009

A very good friend brought a bottle of this lovely wine to a recent cheese tasting I had at my home. We tried it with a few cheeses, which I’ll write about later, but the wine (or the port, if you will) was quite delicious. Port, as most know, is a wine from Portugal that has been fortified with brandy (Aguardente) to stop the fermentation of the wine, and to boost the residual alcohol content. Wikipedia has a good article on Port that you can see for more information.

Technically, if you add spirits to a wine, it is made in the port style. I dug around on Clos Pegase website to find out what was added to this particular wine, but there was no information. I’ve e-mailed them to find out (just for the heck of it). On the bottle, it does note that the wine is from grapes from their Palisades estate vineyards. The alcohol content is 18%. The tasting notes on the bottle indicate sweet blackberry fruit, but I found this to be much richer and less sweet than it may have been. I found more dark cherries and very pleasant smoky notes, with licorice, dark fruits, and a mild sweetness. It had a richness as you might expect in a port, but not the richness of a port (maybe because the grape was different? Hmmmm).

All in all, great to have a friend like this! Thanks, Mike!


Posted in California Wines, Ports & Sherry | Tagged: | 2 Comments »

Cheese Class Session 2

Posted by fromagebob on August 24, 2009

Last class this coming Thursday, the 27th! Sign up at!

We had our second cheese class this past Thursday. What a blast! 13 cheeses, 5 wines, tired students. Perfect!

We featured these cheeses:

Capricho de Cabra, a fresh goat cheese from the Murcia region of Spain
Mt. Vikos Manouri, a fresh sheep & goat Manouri from Thessaly, Greece
Ricota Salata, a fresh Sheep Curd and Whey cheese from Italy
Amarelo de Biera Baixa, a semi-soft Portuguese sheep’s milk cheese
Herve Mons Camembert, a bloomy-rind French version of the real thing
Tarago River Triple Crème, a GREAT bloomy-rind Triple crème cheese from Australia
Le Chevrot, a surface-ripened goat cheese from France
Munster Gerome, a washed-rind cheese from Alsace
Millstone, a nice semi-soft Alpine cheese from Rolf Beeler
Idiazábal, a smoked, semi-firm sheep cheese from Navarre, Spain
Aged Gouda – 5 years, from Holland
Monte Enebro, a nice, creamy, goat blue cheese from Avila, Spain
Maytag Blue, a great blue from Iowa!

The favorites were the Capricho de Cabra, the Amarelo, the Triple Crème (the favorite of the favorites), Le Chevrot, the Millstone, and the Monte Enebro. The least liked cheeses were the Camembert, the Munster, and the Idiazabel.

Our wines were a Von Buhl Halbtrocken Riesling, Groth’s Sauvignon Blanc, Domains Bunan Mas de la Rouivere Bandol, George Duboef Beaujolais-Villages, and Dona Paula Los Cardos Malbec. The Bandol and the Beaujolais were the favorites, although the Riesling and Sauvignon Blanc improved with the cheeses. The Malbec got better after it aired out. We ran out of time for all the parings, but I will work my way through some of those and report back!

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Cheese Class Success

Posted by fromagebob on August 14, 2009

Well, we had our very first cheese class last night at the Whole Foods Lifestyle Center in South Miami (actually, it’s in Coral Gables, but geographically, South Miami makes more sense). Thanks to Whole Foods for the wonderful facility!

I divided the class into three sections: wine tasting, cheese tasting, and cheese parings. We try the wine first because starting with the cheese can really kill your palate.

The wines were:

2007 Wente Riva Ranch Arroyo Seco Chardonnay
2007 Casa Lapostolle Rapel Valley Merlot
2006 Trimbach Gewurztraminer Alsace.

In general, every one liked the wines. I scored them +1 across the board. A few gave the Merlot a zero because it was rather tannic – next week, I will bring my decanter so that we can smooth any rough wines out.

The Wente was quite nice. It does not indicate on the bottle, but it’s actually a blend, consisting of 96% Chardonnay, 3% Gewurztraminer, and 1% Pinot Blanc. It has a very nice flavor. According to their website, 92% of the wine is fermented in oak, the balance in stainless steel. The oak is not overwhelming, but it has a nice body and a pleasant buttery taste. There are pear and apricot aromas, some green apple, and a pleasant floral undertone. The taste has light caramel or butterscotch (I couldn’t figure out which), fruits, and a bit of vanilla. One of the students went out today and purchased a couple of bottles, and I can say that it will be a Chard I’d keep on hand. I liked it.

The Merlot was tannic. I wish I had brought a decanter or an aereator to smooth it out. After it sat in the glass for a bit, it smoothed out. There were dark fruit and cherries – one student described cooked cherries. I’d say maybe dark cooked cherries??, with cherry licorice, leather and a little smoke on the finish.

The Gewurztraminer was rather nice. It was a bit sweet, but had the typical Gewurz spicy, fruity notes.

For the cheeses, I selected Le Petit Brie, Parrano, Garroxta, Bucherondine, Pecorino Toscano, Meadow Creek Grayson, Midnight Moon, Appenzeller, and Gorgonzola Dolce. For the tasting, I plated the cheeses in the order shown, which ran from mild to strong. Everyone liked the Brie, LOVED the Parrano. Mixed feelings about the Garroxta and the Bucherodine. The Pecorino was fairly well received. The Grayson was interesting – I really like this cheese, but the feelings of the crowd were mixed. Several people really disliked it, others were ambivalent. I can say that it was a little different from what I recently brought back from New York, which is a STRONG case for the problems that local retailers have with storing cheeses. The Midnight Moon got rave reviews from all but one. The Appenzeller got mixed reviews, and the Gorgonzola had the typical love-hate response.

Since the class was about entertaining, I had the problem of presenting the cheeses for the tasting in mild to strong, but in the three groups of three that represented the parings. I set this up as the arrival course, dinner course, and dessert course by placing colored dots by the cheeses representing the groups they fell into. Should have taken photos.

Paring foods with wines is so much fun, so much work, and so rewarding when you get it right!

The paring groups were:

Brie, Parrano, Garroxta paired with the Chardonnay

Pecorino, Midnight Moon, Appenzeller paired with the Merlot

Bucherodin, Grayson, Gorgonzola paired with the Gewurztraminer.

The first paring got OK reviews. The Brie and the Garroxta went quite nicely with the Chard, the Parrano less so. I found it very interesting that the cheese really brought out the alcohol of the wine – never had that happen before. Usually, one component will affect the taste of the other.

The second paring went slightly better, although the feelings about the Midnight Moon were mixed. I thought it went nicely. The cheese mellowed out, but it made the wine taste smoother and fuller, but some in the crowed disliked the paring.

The third group, though, got rave reviews. The Gewurztraminer isn’t the greatest, but it really sang with the cheeses – all of them.

As always, the reaction of the group to the parings was worth the wait. I think that seeing how wine and food interact in a fairly simple example is one of the best parts of this type of class, because you start to understand how it all comes together.

One example I used that I think (if I do say so myself) illustrates the paring problem is the following:

Imagine that you’re giving a dinner party, and you’re going to serve your world-famous roast lamb. People come from miles around to try the rich, roasted, intense flavor of this fabulous dish. Your menu will also include asparagus with hollandaise sauce, and your beloved Cajun fingerling potatoes.

Question: Which of those menu choices are you going to pair the wine with?

Answer (naturally): the Lamb.

So I then read through the paring options in my favorite book, “What To Eat With What You Drink” and amazingly enough, the wines that paired with the lamb didn’t pair with anything else.

Conclusion: going for a neutral paring is a GOOD thing if you’ve got a complex menu to serve!

More on the class later.

Two more sessions – visit to sign up!

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Cheese Class, T minus 1!

Posted by fromagebob on August 12, 2009

Well, I’ve lined up the cheeses and the wines for the class! The theme is Cheese for Entertaining (which evolved from my getting – inadvertently – in the middle of a battle between husband and wife over what cheeses to buy for a party).

We’re going to taste the following cheeses:

Le Petit Brie
Pecorino Toscano
Meadow Creek Grayson
Cypress Grove Midnight Moon
Gorgonzola Dolce

And the wine parings are going to be:

Wente Chardonnay from Riva Ranch
Lapostolle Merlot from Chile
Marcel Deiss Gewurtztraminer

Should be fun!

You can still sign up, just let me know that you did!

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Cheese Boot Camp

Posted by fromagebob on August 4, 2009

Line Up! March In! Forks Ready! Now EEEAAAATTTT Cheese!

Just got back from New York, and Murray’s Cheese Boot Camp. 15 hours of cheese over three days. It was WONDEFUL! I’ll be blogging about it in detail, but here’s a “taste” (ha ha):

Day 1: Friday 1830 hours (6:30pm for the uninitiated)

Arrived at Murrays, headed upstairs to the classroom. Walked past (slowly past) the cheese counter, feeling those tastebuds kicking in.

Yes, as you can see the temptations were many ,but I persevered an headed upstairs. They have a great classroom that looks out over their busy cheese floor, so we got to watch the interesting variety of customers that walked in the door.

My seat is there in the foreground, with my cute red umbrella. Ready to eat!

Here’s what greeted me when the class started (well, I had already hit the Ricotta…)

Doesn’t that look YUMMY! From the top (going clockwise):
Calabro Fresh Ricotta
Westfield Farm Capri
Brillat Savarin
Queso de la Serena
Mongomery’s Cheddar
Pecorino Ginepro
Podda Classico

Day 2: 1030 hours: Down Into The Depths

We spent the first session of the 2nd day in the caves, trying LOTS of cheeses and seeing how they are aged. Murray’s has quite a bit of subterranean real estate dedicated to their aging caves, and I just love wandering around down there!

This is the natural rind cave. Those are Stiltons on the top left, provolone’s hanging from the shelves, and Saint Nectaires on the lower right.

Day 2: 1530 Hours: Back In The Classroom

The afternoon of Day 2 was in the class, learning about Old World – vs – New World Style cheese making.

Oooooo. From the top, clockwise:

Humbolt Fog
Constant Bliss
St. Nectaire
Sartori Stravecchio

Day 3: 1030 Hours: She Blinded me with Science!

This session covered cheesemaking and cheese science. Very interesting, and fascinating how similar, and how different cheesemaking is to winemaking. I think that cheesemaking is WAY harder, and much more volatile. Didn’t get a photo of the cheeses in this session because they came out later.

Day 3: 1530 Hours: The Ultimate Sacrifice

The things we do for our hobbies! 6 wines! 6 beers! 6 cheeses! WOOO (hic) HOOOOO!

My somewhat decimated place in class. I actually remember most of the session too! Good thing I took notes!

Tune in to this station for more details about boot camp, coming soon.

Posted in Cheese Education, Wine & Cheese Paring | 1 Comment »