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Posts Filed Under The ‘Nettle Meadow Kunik’ Category

Friday, April 6th, 2012

Sauvignon Blanc, a.k.a. “Spring in a Glass”

Sauvignon Blanc in most of its expressions is a varietal I associate with warm weather more than any other. Refreshing, with citrus fruit aromas and flavors, most Sauvignon Blancs are inherently delightful paired with warm-weather cheeses, mostly the lighter styles. The grape grows in so many regions that you might expect that it can grow successfully anywhere. In fact, this varietal is particular, not only with where it is grown but also with which cheeses it is paired. When a Sauvignon Blanc finds a good match with a cheese it is invariably a very good match. Sauvignon Blanc pulls no punches. If a little Sémillon and/or Moscadelle is thrown in (as in white Bordeaux and some of the lovely whites of Napa valley) this changes the lineup of cheese partners somewhat, as does oak barrel fermentation (as in the Fumé Blancs).

The aesthetic relationships Sauvignon Blanc enjoys with cheeses are fairly easy to pick out: the balance of fruity and savory, the harmony of acids, and the overall size of flavors. The aromatic synergies between Sauvignon Blanc and different cheese styles may be a little less obvious, though at times I am reminded of lemon meringue pie. Technically, the acidity associated with the grape has a distinctive way of cutting though the butterfats in many cheeses.

Sauvignon Blanc seems to be so self-assured that you would think you can throw any old cheese its way and the wine will not suffer. This is precisely one reason why the disappointments can arise: the varietal usually yields wines that are not considered soft, wines that are perhaps a little less malleable with “bossy” cheeses. Other white wines such as those made with the Chardonnay grape have a relatively round mouth-feel; they are usually a little less acid and are more “forgiving” of demanding cheese partners. This is not to say that some Sauvignon Blancs cannot stand up to assertively flavored cheeses; they just do not occur as frequently. Some of the stronger cheeses can flatten a lovely Sauvignon Blanc down to insignificance.

This is why it is important to be careful with Sauvignon Blanc and cheese pairings. The go-to species of cheeses is goat, with the sheep cheeses following close behind. Many of the goat milk cheeses will start to come into their primes a little later in the spring. The mixed milk cheeses always seem to have an advantage with wine pairings, such as the Nettle Meadow Kunik, which is delightful on its own, even nicer with a cool glass of Sauvignon Blanc. Some of the cow cheeses in the cheddar family marry well (largely to the harmony of the acids with this grape) and some of the wash-rind or aged Alpine styles can pair well too, if the Sauvignon Blanc has sufficient “fruit.”

Some of my current favorite Sauvignon Blanc cheese partners include: Pecorino Sardo DOP, Ossau Iraty, Pawlett, Brazos Cheddar, Cantalet, Humboldt Fog, Fladä, Windsordale, Försterkäse (a.k.a. Bergfichte), Langres, Le Moulis, Sbrinz, Beermat, Comté, Appenzeller, Prattigauer, and Mousseron Jurassien. These cheeses are all at peak right now and delicious with Sauvignon Blanc. We will see a new crop of fresh goat milk cheeses coming in to fine form soon, again, always great with this varietal.

Max McCalman

Friday, February 10th, 2012

Rare Cheeses?

Our friends at Huffington Post are recommending “rare” cheeses! Most of them are produced right here in the U.S.! We have witnessed dramatic improvements in artisan cheese making here, especially within the past decade. As we have been saying – this is where the excitement in the cheese world is occurring, right here within our shores.

 Rare Cheeses?

There was a time not that many years ago when superior domestic cheeses were harder to find; they simply were not that many! I recall thinking that I could skip the American Cheese Society’s annual conference every other year; the cheeses were all pretty much the same: some excellent cheeses could be found but the dramatic improvements in cheese making were just beginning to take hold.

Just a few of these phenomenal cheeses were around over a decade ago. Can you identify which ones?

Harpersfield Tilsit
Grassias
Dulcinea
Windsordale Truckle
Cremont
Nettle Meadow Kunik
Thomasville Tomme
Pawlet
Berkshire Blue
Bonne Bouche
Laurier
Helen
Dorset
Uplands Pleasant Ridge
Bijou
Hudson Red
Rupert
Seven Sisters
Barely Buzzed

This is a select group of some of the best cheeses in the world today, and they are all produced here in the United States. Some of these cheeses’ recipes are based on old world styles, yet they are unique, inimitable, and outstanding. Since they have not been around that long, some of these names may be unfamiliar. With the way things are going, expect to see many more “rare” cheeses in the near future.

This year’s American Cheese Society conference will be in early August in Raleigh, North Carolina. We expect to see a new record number of entries; my forecast is 1,900. Even if we see 2,000 entries in the competition, there will be many more that do not enter. You will find hundreds of “rare” cheeses at the conference’s Saturday Festival of Cheeses, and on Thursday evening’s Meet the Cheesemaker session.

This is a conference that cannot be missed every other year any more. Along with a grand selection of cheeses, the conference will include several informative seminars, including one that I will moderate on cheese nutrition.

The first exam for Certified Cheese Professionals will be held at the conference too, a certification the ACS has endorsed and one that we have been developing for nearly a decade. The interest in the certification effort exceeded expectations; the first year’s exam seating has sold out. If you are interested in taking the exam in 2013 you should apply soon!

In the meantime, should you want to prepare for the exam, this year’s or next year’s, you should sign up for the Master Series here.

Max McCalman

Thursday, July 28th, 2011

What’s in Season


 Whats in Season

Here we are at a time of the year when our appetites wane; it’s just too hot. Maybe some watermelon, berries, or some other fruit, but other meatier foods? The heavier foods just don’t seem so appealing in the summer months. I personally enjoy the warm weather, far more than the colder. A big part of what I enjoy about this part of year is that more and more cheeses are coming into their prime, cheeses that were not quite at peak in the spring.

The younger cheeses, the ones that are aged less than three months, are ones that were produced when the vegetation available to the animals was fresh and diverse. Some animals that may have had to settle for hay in the earlier parts of the year were allowed to roam about outdoors and choose from new sprouts, young shoots, green leaves and grasses. All this fresh vegetation spells full flavors in the milk, as well as in the cheeses that are crafted from that milk.

The young goat milk cheeses, or cheeses that have some goat milk in them, are showing so pretty now: the Coupole, the Cremont, the Nettle Meadow Kunik, the Petite Mothais, and the Roves des Garrigues. We always look forward to seeing these come into their primes. And with a side of fresh berries, these cheeses are all you may want to eat for lunch, or breakfast, or later in the day! The Abbaye de Tamié is spectacular right now, to think of it: drawn from happy cows grazing on all types of flora in the valleys of the French Alps. Similarly, the Dorset suggests that the springtime in western Vermont was a good one. These two cheeses are available year-round but these two are primo now. Le Moulis is back, and like the previous two cheeses, this is a cheese that is delicious when it is at this age, and from cows grazing in the lush springtime of the Pyrénées.

Apparently Utah had good springtime weather too, the Terraluna is magnificent. I have come to appreciate this cheese more and more. I look forward to seeing how its flavors evolve throughout the year. One thing I have always counted on this time of year is having the assurance that the Alpine cow cheeses are sufficiently aged. The Appenzeller has some of those sparkling tyrosine crystals developing and there are some in the Hoch Ybrig too. Having a little snack of these cheeses does the body good. And for that matter, I see no reason to ever refuse a little Carles Roquefort when it is around.

Summertime is a great time for cheese, cut back on the other sources of protein.

Max McCalman

Thursday, June 16th, 2011

Pairing Wheat Beers and Cheese

Originally posted at Brewingsomefun.com

10454 Pairing Wheat Beers and Cheese

If wheat beer is not your cup of tea (or not your pint of beer) you might consider trying one with a wide selection of cheeses. I admit that it was not my favorite style of beer either, that is until I had one recently with an array of cheeses. The wheat beer played nice with every cheese on my plate: the Hoja Santa, the Roomano, and the Stilton, and especially well with the Nettle Meadow Kunik, the Terraluna, the Abbaye de Tamié (referenced below) and the Scharfe Maxx.

I recently wrote about a cheese that “screams” beer, that lovely Abbaye de Tamié, a cheese that paired well with each and every kind of beer that I had before me. I would not say that the Abbaye de Tamié is an extreme cheese whatsoever, though it does have quite a lot of character. This cheese may not be for everyone on its own. The same applies for the wheat beers: maybe not for everyone but it is a beer that screams “cheese.”

This is one of the greatest things about pairing beers with cheeses: a cheese that you might not normally choose might actually taste great with the right beer partner, or vice versa. Along with delivering some delightful mixes these pairings can open up new appreciations for second-choice (not second class) cheeses or beers, ones that you would typically avoid.

Part of the key to successful pairings of cheese with the wheat beers is that those beers tend to be especially effervescent, always a plus for cheese partners. The underlying silky textures of wheat beers make smooth platforms for toothsome cheeses.

The wheat beers also tend to be lighter flavored; they can meld into cheeses a little more gracefully. These beers are less bitter than almost all ales. The bitter may be an attractive flavor quality for some beer lovers but it can also present special challenges to cheese partners.

Try a wheat beer wit your next cheese plate, and skip the lemon peel.

Max McCalman