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Cork and Rind: Wine-ing about Cheese
From your Wine Guy and Cheesemonger- Shawn Croft Twin Liquors #3
.. award winning cheese makers of central Texas.
Well the seasons are swinging back around, time for spring outings and summer heat. This means many things to many people. For us wine drinkers it means it is finally getting warm enough to open our options for sipping wines away from the warming full bodied reds and back into the refreshing cool crisp whites. In the cheese world, it means the green pastures are back open again and all the fresh cheeses start hitting the shelf with a certain crisp quality to them. When I look for fresh cheeses, I usually try to stick to local producers as we have some brilliant award winning cheese makers within a short drive of central Texas. If you see any fresh goats milk cheese from any of these local farms grab it, they are wonderful producers who love their goats and make a product to be proud of: Pure Luck Dairy in Dripping Springs, CKC Farms in Blanco, Wateroak Farms in Bryan, or Blue Heron Farms in Field Store. Fresh goat’s milk is a wonderful healthy product, even for those who are lactose intolerant it is a way for everyone to partake in the joy of creamy goodness. Cheese made from this milk in its purest form is usually called “chevre” which just means goat in French. I'm going to focus this episode on those wonderful options that sing the taste of the warming seasons to me.
Fresh Chevre and Sauvignon Blanc is definitely a must try pairing. I can't think of a more natural marriage than these two flavors. The fresh goat’s milk cheese of the Loire valley is world renown so that is where I look for its natural partner. Remember what grows together goes together. The fresh spring goat’s milk is sharp, bright, and acidic; which are exactly the words I would use for a Sauvignon Blanc. One of my favorites is J.F. Merieau Tourraine Sauvignon Blanc for $12.99. It is everything a more expensive Sancerre is but not expensive. Crisp green apple, lime and lively acidity to match with a complex minerality on the finish, J.F. Merieau Tourraine Sauvignon Blanc is definitely one of my favorite purchases for this year. So grab a baguette, smear some local fresh chevre on it and wash it down with this lovely gem of a wine. My little secret down on 6th street is a bakery/restaurant called Easy Tiger, best baguette in town. It tastes like they do on the streets of France, chewy and complex, with a flakey and hard outside, if it doesn't scrape the roof of your mouth it isn't the French style.
Chevre Cheese J.F. Merieau Tourraine Savignon Blanc $12.99
Another favorite spring cheese of mine hails from the opposite corner of France over in the Savoie is a firmer cow’s milk cheese known as Tomme de Savoie. This cheese is one of the true terroirs driven cheeses. When I taste this cheese, I can picture the rolling hillsides of southern France, the fresh grass and happy cows. This cheese is ripe for a fuller bodied white from the south of the Rhône valley. M. Chapoutier Belleruche Blanc at $12.99 is my choice for this one. A blend of Grenache Blanc, Clairette, and Bourboulenc, it has a lively fresh acidity and is balanced with more roundness and length on the tongue. Grab some good olives with this one and enjoy the season.
Tomme de Savoie M. Chapoutier Belleruche Blanc $12.99
And for us blue lovers I will have to suggest some good Gorgonzola Dolce. This is a subset of Gorgonzola, one of the great blue cheeses of the world, hailing to us from the wonderful Italian region of Piedmont. Gorgonzola is marketed based on age and the freshest is the dolce where the sweet spring grass sings through the blue giving you a soft spreadable blue that is not too blue. I'm going to suggest another gem of a wine here a Renato Ratti Dolcetto d'Alba $17.99. the big black cherry and complex anise and tobacco finish on this will perfectly match. If I had a night at home with someone special I can't think of a better meal than a hot juicy grilled steak with Gorgonzola Dolce smeared over it and a glass of this dolcetto.
Gorgonzola Dolce Renato Ratti Dolcetta d'Alba $17.99
Remember that cheese is a living thing and very seasonal. The animals eat different types of grass and are in different weather and that affects the milk and in turn the cheese. I always take advantage of each season as they all have special offerings.
Stay tuned for more for us cheese and wine lovers!