I had the great pleasure of hosting the opening reception of the Oregon Cheese Festival last Friday, and on Saturday, giving a seminar on cheese and wine pairing, and then speaking at a brunch to celebrate the 75th Anniversary of Rogue Creamery on Sunday. The creamery that was founded by Tom Vella has always had a reputation for producing fine cheeses, especially blues, has been an important part of the local economy all along.
Their Rogue River Blue that won a Gold Medal in International Cheese Competition in 2003 is one of my favorite cheeses. It also won Best-in-Show at the 2009 American Cheese Society’s Competition in Austin. The wheels are wrapped in Syrah leaves that have been macerated in a pear brandy; the flavors of this cheese sparkle. We were very fortunate to acquire a few wheels recently; the creamery had just a few left for the season and won’t have more until next fall.
A favorite of the cheesemakers themselves, the Crater Lake Blue is one of the prettiest blues in our caves, similar to the Oregon lake for which the cheese is named. The pristine lake also happens to be extremely deep, just like the flavors of this cow milk blue – deep, yet clean.
Among their lineup of “miraculous moldies” we also found a few wheels of the luxurious Echo Mountain Blue. This cheese is made from a blend of cow and goat milk; it is available in limited production and is also very seasonal. The flavors of this blue are brilliant, zesty, and beautifully balanced/ The Echo Mountain Blue has a lovely balance of blue flavors, cow and goat milk, and just the right amount of salt.
Rogue Creamery’s co-owner and master cheesemaker has a knack for making blue cheeses. I call it having a blue thumb. The Rogue River Blue is one of the very few leaf-wrapped blue cheeses made anywhere, and the Echo Mountain Blue is one of the only mixed-milk blues. Both of them happen to be exceptional. I recommend that you try some now while they’re available, before I finish them myself!