Bob's Cheese and Wine Blog

My world of cheese and wine

Archive for January, 2010

Cornish Yarg Cheese – Delight from the UK

Posted by fromagebob on January 18, 2010

Cornish Yarg is a pasteurized, grass-fed cow’s milk cheese from Cornwall, in the UK. The cheese is based on a recipe dating back to the 13th century. Some cheese references have this as the 17th century, but I verified it with the producer, Lynher Daries. The name “Yarg” is the name of the original cheese maker (in 1983, not 1483) – Mr. Gray, spelled backwards.

The cheese is a cross between Caerphilly and Wensleydale.  After coagulation, the curd is cut and placed into molds, and pressed overnight. The cheeses are brined in a salt bath for 24 hours, left to dry for 48 hours, then wrapped in nettle leaves and set to age for three weeks. The nettles attract various molds which help the cheese ripen, and add to its flavor. The dairy has a nice presentation with photos of the cheese making process.

Cornish Yarg has a distinct aroma of fresh milk and grassy notes, with earthy, mushroomy undertones. The flavor is creamy, buttery, and slightly herbal. The finish starts sweet, then gets slightly bitter and vegetal. Near the center, the creaminess is more pronounced; near the edges of the cheese where the nettle leaves are, the flavor is more sharp and bitter. The cheese is suitable for vegetarians.

I’ve paired this cheese with a number of wines; this evening, we had it with Bonny Doon’s Ca’Del Solo Sangiovese, and Cartlidge and Browne’s Chardonnay – both worked quite nicely. For entertaining, it’s a very nice cheese, as the nettle rind is very pretty, and the taste very pleasant.

This cheese is available locally from Sunset Corner’s Wine Shop.

Freshly Picked Nettle Leaves

Wheel of Cornish Yarg


Posted in Artisanal Cheese, UK Cheeses | Tagged: , , | Leave a Comment »

Value wine tasting at Sunset Corners

Posted by fromagebob on January 16, 2010

Saturday is my day to visit Sunset Corners for their weekly wine and cheese tasting. This week, they featured a selection of Spanish wines, all priced below $25.00, and all nice drinking wines. Part of the reason I enjoy visiting this shop is because they do not charge for their tastings, they get “newbie” wine drinkers in the shop, and it is always a pleasure to share their fresh experiences.

The first wine was a 2008 Bodegas Santa Quiteria Higueruela, from Almansa, Spain. This is 100% garnacha, unoaked, from old vines. The aroma was alcohol, sweet cherries, and a hint of floral notes. The taste was a little sweet, and slightly candy-like, with cooked dark fruits, and a touch of spice. The finish was short, and a little earthy. This wine retails for $11.99

Next was a 2007 Bodegas Silvano Garcia Vina Honda, from Jumilla (one of my favorite wine regions). This wine is 100% Monastrell, fermented in stainless steel vats. The aroma was smoky, with dark cherries, blueberries, and a hint of leather. The taste was tobacco, dark fruits, some slight vegetal notes. It has a medium finish that was nice – slightly bitter, but spicy. I thought the leather and tobacco notes were unusual in the wine, since it was not oaked, but they were the first thing that hit my nose. This wine retails for $14.99.

Third up was a wine I’ve had before – Vivir, Vivir. This particular vintage was 2008. This 100% unoaked Tempranillo. On the nose, a little spicy, with some vegetal notes, and dark berries. The flavor was cooked dark fruit, some tannins that softened out pretty quickly, and a medium, slightly bitter finish. This wine retails for $9.99. I found that this is a wine that you open and drink – it does not hold well. It would be a very nice party wine.

Next was the 2008 Bodegas Abanico Las Colinas del Ebro Terra Alta. This is a blend of Syrah (60%) and Garnacha (40%). The two varietals are fermented separately, then blended. They undergo a short period in French Oak barrels. On the nose, I found cherry, licorice, dark berries, and light floral notes. In the mouth, Light tannins, dark cherries, a little vanilla, and a slight vegetal note. The finish was medium, and slightly sweet. This wine retails for $12.99

Tomorrow, I’ll fill in the rest! Have a glass of wine with dinner – you’ll be glad you did! If you’re interested in finding out about their upcoming wine tastings, send an e-mail to Michael Bittell.

Posted in Spanish Wines, Value Wines | Tagged: , , | 1 Comment »

There’s more to cachaca than caipirinhas

Posted by fromagebob on January 1, 2010

Recently, a good friend invited us over for a cachaça tasting. I’ve tried a few types of cachaça, but mostly as part of the Brazilian drink, the caipirinha (the reason Brazilians are such happy people!). I knew from a trip to Brazil several years ago that there are hundreds of different types of cachaça manufactured, most in small artisanal distilleries scattered about the country.

Cachaça (pronounced KA – SHA – SA) is also referred to as aguardente, a name that in most of the rest of Latin America refers to the local rum. Cachaça is distilled from sugarcane (unlike most rum, which is made from molasses). The strength can range from about 70 proof (35% alcohol) to 160 proof (80% alcohol). There are two types of Cachaça – white and gold. The white generally has a harsher taste, and is used for mixed drinks, while the gold is a smoother version, often barrel aged. It can be sipped neat or over ice. Brazilians use a variety of woods to age the liquor, including chestnut, oak, ipe, almond, Brazilian cherry, and a number of other varieties. Wikipedia has a good article from which some of the above was referenced.

I tasted seven cachaça brands. My notes are below:

Vale Verde: 43% alcohol (86 proof). Aged 3 years in oak. Herbal and woody notes on the nose, herbal and oaky on the palate. Medium finish, slightly bitter, but pleasant.

Fulo 1827: 40% alcohol (80 proof). Aged in Brazilwood barrels (no notes on time). Vanilly, perfumy on the nose. Eucalyptus, woody, burnt coffee on the palate. Long finish, a little bitter and herbal.

Salinas: 45% alcohol (90 proof). Aged 1-1/2 to 3 years in balsam wood. Perfumy, light woody notes on the nose, smooth, with a light citrus flavor in the mouth. Slightly herbal on the finish with a touch of licorice.

Espirito de Minas: 43% alcohol (86 proof). Aged in oak for 1 year. Fruity on the nose with a very slight hint of vanilla. The taste was light, with light fruits and a hint of wood. Nice, clean finish. This was our favorite of the bunch.

Magnifica Ouro: 43% alcohol (86 proof). Aged 2 years in oak. On the nose, fruity, with notes of coffee, toast, and vanilla. The taste was oaky, with vanilla and herbal notes. The finish was nice, a little short, but nice. This was ranked #5 in Playboy’s 2009 Cachaça ranking.

Domina Suave: 40% alcohol (80 proof). Aged in Jequitiba wood (no time given). The nose was interesting – perfumey, with distinct baked apples and some herbal notes. The taste was herbal, fruity, with a touch of roses. The finish was medium, with a flowery taste that was slightly bitter.

Germana: 40% alcohol (80 proof). Aged 2 to 10 years in oak and balsam wood. The aroma was fruity, with coffee and vanilla. The taste was herbal and fruity, with a hint of strawberries. Medium finish, slightly bitter but balanced.

Overall, the exercise was quite pleasant and educational. There were quite a few more cachaças to try, (our friend had 17 of them lined up); we selected most of these bottles randomly, and the crowd agreed that it was a worthy exercise!

Posted in Spirits | 7 Comments »