Friday, April 18, 2014

Wine Merchant Cheese Class April 2014

I actually don't remember the last time I went to a Wine Merchant cheese class although I did find some blog posts from 2009. I know I would try to take a food pairing class here and there since those have always been my favorite, but my class schedule definitely had become too full the last couple of years.

Thanks to my schedule finally slowing down and a holiday weekend, I just happened to be available on the right night for their cheese class. For over a year, the cheese classes were scheduled for Saturday nights, so I jumped at the chance to take one on a Friday night again!

While at first I wasn't too excited about a "USA" themed wine and cheese class, I was happy to review the menu when I got to class and (believe it or not), I had never tasted any of the cheeses that were served tonight. I always love learning and tasting new cheeses/wine/food/etc.

Even though I hadn't been in the Clayton store for quite awhile, I recognized most of the staff and that really impressed me. They must be doing something right if employees continue to stay. My hero, cheesemonger Simon Lehrer, told me he has reached ten years!

Anyway, I didn't remember there being six tastings per class, but I did appreciate getting to try that many cheeses. Luckily, Simon didn't pour too heavy, but I did have to share some of the red wines with a friend!

1st Pairing:
2012 Melville Chardonnay Clone 76-Inox from Sta. Rita Hills, CA
Capriole Sofia, Goat cheese from Indiana

This was one of my top favorites because the crispness and acid of the wine (no oak!) really helped to cut through the creamy goat cheese. I always love that balance between the two.

2nd Pairing:
2011 Autumn Selection Viognier, from Columbia Valley, WA
Pondhopper, Goat cheese from Bend, OR

The Viognier was more floral on the nose, but had a very mellow finish, so it couldn't quite keep up with the richness and nutty, caramel flavor of the firm goat cheese, which reminded me A LOT of my favorite, Midnight Moon. This cheese definitely stands alone.

3rd Pairing:
2012 haden fig Pinot Noir from Willamette Valley, OR
Jasper Hill Winnemere, Raw Cow's milk from Vermont

You know this is THE place to get Pinot Noir from in this country. This is a great example of a quaffable red wine...yes, a red wine that *I* like since it has such a fruity finish with little dryness.

Yet, it just isn't a wine that could handle the super gooey and "stinky" cheese that is very similar to one of my all time favorite cheeses: Epoisses. I learned from Simon that most cheese is made from summer milk when the grass is greener and there is more variety. Yet, this cheese was made from winter milk, that has a higher fat content and all the flavor comes from washing the rind. This rind was bathed in a lambic beer so I'm sure you can imagine how delicious those flavors added to the cheese. Let's just say I did get leftovers of this cheese from two friends.

4th Pairing:
2008 Nicholson Jones Selection Syrah from Napa Valley, CA
Cobb HIll Ascutney Mountain from Vermont

I pretty much needed a knife and fork to drink this Syrah. Of course all the "red heads" loved this wine. The rich, firm, raw cow's milk cheese just could not stand up to it. I think this and the Winnemere should have been switched.

5th Pairing:
2012 Waterbrook Cabernet Sauvignon from Columbia Valley, WA
Nettle Meadow Simply Sheep from Vermont

I was surprised to be tasting a Cabernet after the Syrah, since I could drink this wine more easily. I thought this was a pretty good pairing with the creamy sheep's milk cheese. I learned that Sheep's cheese are usually lower in acid and higher in fat.

6th Pairing:
2012 Bedrock Lorenzo's Heritage from Dry Creek Valley, CA
Roelli Dunbarton Blue, Raw Cow's milk from Wisconsin

This might be the best blue cheese I have ever tried since it is the only one I have heard of going through the cheddaring process, which prevented the blue from overpowering the wine, which actually had a fruity finish. I was quite surprised. Possibly the best pairing, but you could easily have both of these by themselves.

Again, I totally dropped the ball on taking a picture of my plate of cheeses...I have gotten quite out of practice. But next month, cheese class is on a Friday night again! Yes!

Resources:

The Wine Merchant = http://winemerchantltd.com/