Monday, January 04, 2010

Wine and Cheese

One of the things our family did during our Christmas celebration was our wine and cheese celebration. This year we had it on December 26th. We started this tradition two years ago and have plans to continue it for as long as we can.

The goal:  get yummy cheeses and pair them with yummy wines and eat and drink.

The Cheeses!

And trust me we are VERY good at this!  Two years ago we had 5 wine and cheese pairings and this year we had six.  It was my dad who did the picking this year and he even included for us about the cheeses and wines.  All the cheeses this year came from Carr Valley Cheese Co and my dad included notes about each pairing.  All in all they were all amazing.  I'd eat any of them again but there were some standouts.  If you love cheese I recommend them all, also the wine.  (My dad's notes are in italics)

Pair One
Carr Valley Creama Kasa – An incredibly rich and flavorful triple-cream cheese that's like pure heaven. Creama Kasa is made from cow milk. Its flavor is buttery and piquant, and it melts in your mouth. Perfect for spreading on warm, crusty bread!

Taittinger Brut Reserve Champagne, NV –Wine Review: This clear Champagne is very tasty. It opens with a pleasant doughy bouquet. On the palate, this Champagne is acidic, refined, and elegant. This is a really terrific Champagne. The finish is dry and quite lengthy. This is a special occasion quality wine that will not break the bank.

This was a great cheese.  Along the lines of a brie but very flavorful and firmer.  Great on bagettes.  The Champagne was a great way to start too, and considering this was my first real drinking occasion since I got pregnant it was hard not to fill up on this cheese and champagne.

Another picture of cheese!

Pair Two
Carr Valley Mobay – Sid's whimsically delicious take on the famous French cheese, Morbier. Our version features a layer of sheep milk cheese and a layer of goat milk cheese separated by a layer of grape vine ash and pressed together. The flavor is both delicate and rustic. Taste each layer separately and then together for three different flavor profiles in one great cheese. Mobay took 2nd Place in its class at the 2004 and 2005 American Cheese Society Competition.

2007 Vouvray – Domaine Le Peu de la Moriette – This classic off-dry white is estate bottled from Chenin Blanc grapes in Vouvray, in the Loire Valley region. Low yields, hand harvesting and barrel fermentation are employed to give the wine its authenticity. They call it 'slightly dry' in France, although we would call it 'off-dry'. The aromas are honeydew, peach juice and a hint of spice. The palate is juicy and fresh, and the acidity balances the fruitiness in the finish.
 Domaine le Peu de la Moriette has expanded over the years from 30 to nearly 52 acres of hillside vineyard, cultivated without chemical pesticides. Planted entirely with Chenin Blanc, the vines vary in age from 20-60 years. These steep and chalky vineyards have astonishingly low yields. The grapes are hand-harvested and carefully sorted. Fermentation progresses slowly in the naturally cool environment of the caves in 450-liter oak barrels. New wood is never used. The wine is aged in oak for six months prior to light filtration and bottling, which occurs in March and April.

The sheep/goat cheese was good but the standout here was the wine.  It was AMAZING!  Seriously, go buy this.  It was sweet but not too sweet and very smooth.  It accented the cheese extremely well but went well with anything.  This was the wine I had seconds on.  Yum.  I will be getting more of this wine.

Notice the giddy laughter in Mr. Goat - the wine makes this a very happy party.  Also notice the shorts.  His pants fell victim to the Cabernet.

Pair Three
Carr Valley Cranberry Chipotle Cheddar – This white cheddar has cranberries and chipolte peppers for added flavor. It has the taste of the best Texas barbecue sauce and the heat comes on after the flavor of the cheese and has a very warm finish. Cranberry Chipolte Cheddar took 3rd Place at the 2007 U.S. Championship Cheese Contest and 3rd Place at the 2007 American Cheese Society.

2007 Gewurtztraminer – Gustave Lorentz Reserve – Review from Binny’s Beverage Alsatian tasting: nose: good spicy and zesty nose filled with lemons, various citrus fruits, peaches, lychees, and some spice tones.
 A yummy cheese with a bit of a bite.  It paired well with the wine though this pair didn't stand out like the others.
My sister also succumbs to the wine hysteria.  Notice the glasses piling up!

Pair Four
Carr Valley Apple-Smoked Garlic Cheddar – with flavor that's so bold, deep and delicious, Sid says this cheese should be placed on the "Controlled Substance" list. One try, and we think you will agree!
2005 Chardonnay – Miner (wild yeast – Napa Valley) – “Complex notes of ripe apples, creme brulee, toasted bread and savory spices are combined in the deeply framed, rich aromas of this somewhat full-bodied, mouthfilling and well-balanced wine.” Connoisseurs' Guide 95 Points.

This was another yummy cheese (can you tell I like cheese).  The garlic flavor really came out but it wasn't overpowering.  The Chardonnay was really bizzarre.  It was almost like butter at times, it was extremely smooth and complex and none of us could quite describe what the mouth feel was in the end.  This was the only glass I didn't finish (ahem) but I didn't necessarily dislike the wine either.

These aren't great shots but I was sitting on the floor.  Also laughing quite hard and slightly drunk!

Pair Five
Carr Valley 8-Year Aged Cheddar – Handcrafted in the La Valle plant in small vats by cheesemakers with more than 100 years experience. Aged 8 years. Our 8 Year Cheddar won First Place at the 2004 American Cheese Society Competition.

2000 Cabernet Sauvignon – Raymond Burr (Dry Creek Valley) – A blend of 91% cabernet sauvignon and 9% cabernet franc. Winemaker’s note: “plush in texture, dark & smokey, with loads of ripe black cherry and blackberry flavors. Has soft undertones of classy cassis and black current. Well intergrated with toasty oak, with a lingering, rich spicy vanilla finish"

Oh this cheese.  This cheese was heaven.  It was perfect - sharp and smooth at the same time.  It crumbled beautifully but it wasn't crystally like some aged cheddars can be.  I think I may have dreamed of this cheese.  And even writing this post makes me strongly consider ordering some of my own!  The Cabernet was good too and I don't typically like Cabs.  To be fair I didn't finish this wine either because I shared my glass with Mr. Goat after he spilled his over his pants and the floor.  By pair five we were getting more than a bit tipsy.  I should note that my mother doesn't drink but does eat cheese and she was very willingly also on Grandma duty with baby goat.

My view - lots of empty wine glasses.  Would you believe that we all resused one of the glasses for three of the different wines.  Can you imagine a different glass for each one for all 5 of us drinking?

Pair Six
Carr Valley Ba Ba Blue – A native Wisconsin sheep milk blue cheese, aged four months for intense "blue" flavor. This cheese took 2nd Place at the 2006 American Cheese Society Competition.

2003 Sauternes – Chateau Guiraud – “A big nose of honey-coated fruit here, and a big, flavoursome palate to match. Full, firm character, with decent botrytis influence. Rich and opulent style, with a great sweetness. Should make good drinking.” From a Sauternes 2003 tasting. 17/20 (October 2005). Wine Spectator – “This is very sweet and rich on the nose, with toffee, honey and spices. Full-bodied, and thick honey. Spice, dried apricot and syrup flavors. Lasts for minutes on the palate. Big botrytis bomb. Love it.” Score: 95. —James Suckling, March 31, 2006.

This was a good blue cheese but I've had better "blue-y" blue cheeses.  Compared to the 8 yr cheddar it was a bit bland in fact, but still very yummy.  The standout here was the wine.  My dad said it was the most expensive single bottle of wine he's purchased (thanks dad!) and it showed.  It was a dessert wine and so wonderful!  I  don't recommend buying it because of price only but it was awesome!  It would easily be my favorite if I could afford it.  If it is our turn to pair the wine and cheese next time we won't get anything so fancy but it was very very good.  If you see it on a by the glass wine list would be worth the splurge.

All in all it was a great night.  Luckily I had enough milk for baby goat saved up so he didn't suffer any ill effects of the wine.  With the exception of one or two drinks in the last 18 months this was my real first time drinking and I couldn't have picked better food or company to do so in.  And since we were safe in our parents house and didn't have to worry.  I didn't get too drunk but it definitely was a fun night.  Thankfully no hangover or anything but we ended early and I drank lots of water too.

I think this is a nice tradition.  It will likely be two years until we are all together for Christmas again so we won't repeat this until then but I recommend it as a fun experience.  My dad called the cheese place and got recommendations and had a wine guy to give recommendations too so he wasn't pairing blindly and he did a great job.  And we are especially grateful for his funding of our epicurious adventure!  Thanks Dad!


Wines 'r' Us said...

In the interest of full disclosure, all of the cheese descriptions came from the Carr Valley website. The wine descriptions came from the wineries or from descriptions I found online.

My favorite cheese -- the 8-year old white cheddar, and my favorite pairing was the cheddar with the cab. In terms of my favorite wine, I'd be hard-pressed to choose between the cab and the sauternes! The chardonnay and the vouvray were excellent as well. That was a LOT of fun. Glad I don't have to take a cholesterol test for awhile!

JM said...

Mmmm, cheese. And I would take the wine as well. What an awesome, and delicious, tradition!

Molly Guthrey Millett said...

what a great idea!

kristine said...

How fun! I know nothing about cheese if it doesn't include the word cheddar. LOL. And I certainly know nothing about wine, but it looks like you guys had a good time!

Brianna said...

Oh, wow. Can I come next year?

So happy you found us. Will you be at Cupcake?


Kate said...

Oh wine hysteria. SO familiar with that. I also love the phenomena of the Wine Philosopher. Too many glasses and it makes one SO profound and deep!