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Cana’s Feast Rosato and Quadrello di Bufala

Although the summer is over (we’re still hoping for a few days of lingering sunlight),rosés are in fashion all year around. Our wine buyer Ziggy and cheese wiz Kazar put their heads together for an all-seasons pairing.

Ziggy says: Cana’s Feast is a small winery in Carlton, Oregon, sourcing their juice from a number of vineyards in Washington/Oregon AVA’s. They offer some varietals unusual for our area, such as Counoise and Nebbiolo, and some blends, ranging from inexpensive and solid to moderately spendy reserves. Many of their wines have a Northwest/Italian-fusion flair, and names like Bricco Red and Rosato help to clue the buyer into this happy synchronicity.

This is a bold and satisfying rosé. While the label says off-dry, this seems to be an artifact from a previous vintage. The winemaker’s notes say the residual sugar is a mere .2%, and the alcohol content is relatively high at 13.9%. The Rosato this year is dry. There is a hint of rose flower on the nose, which comes through subtly on the palate, along with rich fruit notes of melon and citrus, herbal hints that reminded me of sagebrush, and a mineral undertone. Overall, the wine is bright and crisp, vibrant and elusive, even snappy with a rich mouthfeel and a subtle dusty finish.

Quadrello di Bufala: Made in the Lombardy region of Italy by Quattro Portoni, a cheesemaker specializing in 100% water-buffalo-milk cheeses, Quadrello bears some similarities to Taleggio, another square, sticky, richly flavored Italian cheese. Soft but not runny paste, wonderfully savory and mouthwatering, full flavored, meaty but not stinky (I found some online descriptions of Quadrello did characterize it as stinky; I beg to differ, or else our sample was younger than some). Salty but nicely balanced with the other rich flavors. I ate the rind—something I don’t always do, in spite of having a taste fquadrelloor strong cheeses—and found it delicious.

The pairing: The wine stands up to fattiness of cheese and provides a pleasing counterpoint, but seems to lose some of its complexity. Ideally I would pair Cana’s Feast Rosato with a selection of cheeses including the Quadrella di Bufala, but with some sharper and runnier cheese as well. We chose the Rosato for this pairing with the awareness that the combination wasn’t perfect; it nonetheless seemed like a fun and interesting intersection of tastes. Most online suggestions for pairing suggest sweetish white wines like Riesling; this seems like a reasonable suggestion.

Kazar says: Cana’s Feast Rosato: meaty, with flavors of hibiscus & subtle red fruit.

Quadrello di Bufala: bold & sharp, full-flavored with complex grassy tones, semi-soft and and slightly coarse texture. The sequence on the palate is sharp nuttiness, then complex grass notes. The soft, coarse texture leads into smooth mouth feel, the acids & meat tones finishing with the floral layers.

Pairing: A well-balanced dance of flavors. The sharpness of the cheese is complemented by the acid and strength of the wine’s meat-like notes, the floral notes swim through the upper palate while the soft and slightly coarse texture of the cheese gives way to the wine’s silky mouthfeel.

We both found the contrasts of taste and texture to be very enjoyable, whatever the weather!

 

 

June Wine & Cheese Pairing

Cada Dia Raw Double Cream Feta and Agate Ridge 2012 Pinot Gris

Blind date blossoms into summer romance!

Josh says:

Like many of Oregon’s artisan cheese producers, Cada Dia Cheese is a small family-owned operation that uses the best practices to create high quality farmstead cheese; but, there is something special about Cada Dia, it’s the cheese!

Proud owners Pat and Cher Sullivan make unique and incomparable cheeses outside of Prineville where their herd grazes, the cows are milked, and the cheeses are made and aged all right on their farm. The quality control starts in the pastures, where their twenty cows enjoy sixty acres of natural Central Oregon grassland. The herd is milked once a day and only during the season from April to November, following the cows’ natural yearly cycle. Making cheese seasonally ensures milk from only grass-fed cows that is high in Omega-3 fatty acids and beta-carotene. The warm raw milk is taken immediately to the kettles without being cooled so the cheese-making process can begin and the nutrients and flavor are retained. The finished cheeses are aged to intensify and develop wonderful flavor and are delivered by courier to restaurants, farmers’ markets, and cheese shops across the state.

The Kiva proudly sells Cada Dia Cheese raw aged cheddar with chives and raw double-cream feta, both of which are true treasures of Oregon’s growing artisanal cheese industry. The richness and quality of these cheeses is evident at first glance when the gold-cream color stands out enticingly. The Cada Dia herd consists of only Jersey cows, whose milk is higher in fat and protein content than that of other breeds and is recognizable by its glorious hue.

And then you taste it! For instance, take a bite of the raw double-cream feta and you experience a cheese that is firm to the tooth but crumbles in your mouth letting loose a deluge of flavors as it dissolves. This unique textural experience makes you feel you are tasting each individual precious curd as it sings away in your mouth. The flavor is bold and concentrated, yet clean–close your eyes and picture yourself in the fresh pastures, running your fingers through the blades of grass. Finally the lingering richness of the added cream reminds you that life can really be this good!

Josh adds that “the wine beautifully balances the sharp salty bite of the feta.

Ziggy says:

Josh gave me a taste of the amazing Cada Dia feta, and, while I was blown away by the flavor of the cheese, it posed quite a challenge for a pairing.

Cada Dia Feta isn’t something to toss into a Greek salad (though I’m sure there are great salad applications!).  It’s crazy rich–buttery; crumbly, yet more soft than dry; bursting with complicated flavors that deserve the spotlight.  My first impression was of its saltiness, and of tang with some sweetness to it.  It opens up like a movie for the palate, traveling smoothly from flavor to flavor.  As the “flavor scenery” rolled past I jotted down savory, acidic, buttery, herbal, animal–ending with a burst of umami that made me want another taste right away.

I started searching my memory for some assertive yet gentle Italian wine–I was thinking robust red, and I still think the right kind of elegant, not-too-fruity red (including some good Oregon Pinot Noirs) might also pair equally well with this special cheese.

But serendipity happened!

Ashley, our representative from Agate Ridge Vineyards, came in just minutes after my first taste of feta to show me some samples of their current line and some new vintages.  Agate Ridge, located in Eagle Point, Oregon (north of Medford) offers a variety of lovely wines, from a big lush Primitivo to a rich but reserved Roussane.  Southern Oregon wines are typically riper and more robust than their chillier Willamette Valley cousins, and Agate Ridge wines are no exception; but their core minerality (bequeathed to the grapes by the agate-rich soil of the vineyard) and adept vinification keep them from being California wanna-be’s.

One of the wines in Ashley’s bag was the recently-released 2012 Pinot Gris, and it struck me as soon as I tasted it that it might make beautiful music with Cada Dia Feta, so I set up a blind date between the cheese and the wine.

The Agate Ridge 2012 Pinot Gris has a lovely nose with a coppery note and scents of herbal smoke, wet stone, and resin.  Its bright, almost brash acid is balanced by a smooth, creamy mouthfeel with nice viscosity.  We tasted lemon zest, a hint of bitter herbs, tropical fruits, all underscored with an authoritative edge of minerality.

The flavors are very ripe and surprisingly European in character, more forward than some of the delicate Pinot Gris’ from the Willamette Valley.  That its alcohol content of 14.1% was a surprise speaks to its smoothness and grace, and I also thought I detected a hint of saline–not necessarily salt, but a mineral note reminiscent of salt–which made it an especially apt companion for the feta.

Together–the acidic quality of the cheese and wine complement each other: wine cleanses the palate and keeps the cheese from cloying so that each bite is a fresh experience.  The minerality of the wine complements the saltiness of the cheese. This effect worked both ways, the melting earthy flavors of the cheese making the vibrant ripe fruit of the wine a new experience with each sip.   This was a great pairing–the flavors of the wine and cheese worked to bring out the best in each other.

Better Together: A Romantic Duet from Burgundy

Jaillance Crémant de Bourgogne Brut and Delice de Bourgogne

Reviewed by Ziggy, Kiva Beer & Wine, and Josh, Kiva Deli Manager

Ziggy says:

The Wine: Jaillance Crémant, a non-vintage blend of Pinot Noir, Gamay, Chardonnay, and Aligoté,  is a rich straw-yellow color with a fine bead.  My tasting partner and I detected notes of fruitcake, peach, melon, and tropical fruit in the very champagne-like nose.  The palate had a little tang, but also an opulent weight and creamy mouthfeel.  Tropical fruit and apple came through on the palate, and a slight rum-like hint of molasses.  This is a solid wine that can be proud of itself among other sparkling wines in its under-$20 price range.
The Cheese:  I love Delice!  Rich, buttery, and tangy, with subtle melting notes of mushroom and flour.  I’ve described it as whipped cream that has died and gone to heaven, and I consider it flavorful but mild (my tasting partner is not as madly in love with it as I: he finds its mild tang sour on the palate).  It varies in ripeness; when completely ripe it has almost the consistency of mayonnaise and a rich flavor; when a little younger there is a mild, sweet crumbly core to the paste that has a subtly different but equally appealing taste.
I like Delice on a slice of French baguette–preferably a well-kneaded bread that has some nuttiness to its flavor.  In this case, we sampled it on Stoned Wheat Thins from Red Oval Farms, and I thought the cheese brought out a synergistic sweetness from the cracker that was delicious; my partner found the cheese much more appealing on the Thins than he does on bread.

Together:  The wine and cheese combined very well; I didn’t experience any of the negative effects that bloomy-rind (and blue) cheeses can have when paired with wine (like a moldy or otherwise off aftertaste) and found that the wine refreshed my palate so that the next bite of cheese was as fresh as the first, while the cheese brought out a richness in the wine that made it resonate to a deeper note.  I would like this pairing equally well before or after dinner.

Josh says:

Any good couple is greater than the sum of its individual parts.  That is just what you get with this marvelous duo from Burgundy.

A triple crème with over 75 per cent butterfat, Delice de Bourgogne is one of the world’s richest cheeses. It is made of cow’s milk from the famous terroir of the Burgundy region of France, and enhanced with fresh cream, giving it a luxurious, unbeatably-rich profile. When you taste Delice de Bourgogne, you get a smooth, sensual silky mouthfeel, followed by a slightly sharp flavor with subtle floral notes and a lingering salty finish, providing a notable savory experience.

Sparkling wine is a classic pairing for triple crèmes with good merit. The tiny bubbles add beautiful texture that contrasts the silky paste of the cheese. With the bubbles, the dry character of a brut such as the Cremant de Bourgogne contrasts the saltiness of the cheese in an intriguing manner that enhances the enjoyment of the pairing.

So if you have fallen into a rut of romantic predictability with roses and chocolates, try surprising your sweetie this Valentine’s Day with an interactive tasting experience instead. Grab a bottle of bubbly and a rich and delicious triple crème and toast to romantic duos.

Wine & Cheese Pairing for December

Gruyere and Morbier

with Chateau Lugagnac Bordeaux Supérieur

Reviewed by Ziggy (Kiva Beer & Wine) and Josh (Kiva Deli)

The Wine:  Chateau de Lugagnac Bordeaux Supérieur 2009:  50 % Merlot Noir, 50 % Cabernet Sauvignon
Ziggy says:  On the nose I detected scents of cut wood, blackberries, wood ash, violet, and the wet leaf scent of autumn woods.
On the palate: lots of vibrant fruit, black currant and blackberry, with hints of charcoal, licorice, and toast.  The flavor seemed concentrated on the front of the palate, with a thinner back palate that reminded me of bourbon whiskey.
While at first sip it seemed like a big-bodied wine, it proved silky and evasive as it lingered in the mouth.  With its thinner texture, fine-grained tannins, and medium-long finish, Chateau de Lugagnac would be a good wine to enjoy with many foods, especially roasted meats and vegetables.

 

Delicious Duo: Morbier & Gruyere

The Cheeses:  Gruyere and Morbier

Gruyere, a classic Swiss cheese, is made with raw milk and has a big, vibrant, slightly sweet and nutty flavor. This is a perfect cheese for the holidayseason, whether for a cheese plate or everyone’s favorite, fondue. It is wonderful for cooking, whether melting over croutons for French onion soup or used in a gratin. Its versatility and big flavor makes this cheese a favorite.

Morbier, a raw milk cheese from France, has a beautifully silky texture broken by its signature layer of ash that provides a subtle but pleasantly gritty textural counterpoint. The flavor is complex and richly nutty, with a slight aromatic bitterness that is complimented nicely by a fruity red wine. The visual contrast between the ash and the white paste of the cheese makes this an intriguing addition to any cheese plate.
Morbier comes with a charming story to share with your guests. Traditionally, cheesemakers would press evening curd into a mold, brush their hands against blackened copper pots and spread the ash over the curds. The following day, the morning curd was pressed on top, creating the unique look of this cheese. (Modern day morbier is made with tasteless vegetable ash.)
The Pairings
Josh says:  The smooth, rich, full-bodied Bordeaux pairs nicely with both of these raw milk, nutty cheeses.
Ziggy says:  I have often found that Gruyere brings out the best in many wines, especially reds, and this pairing went very well–the Gruyere was scrumptious and savory, redolent with notes of nuts and roasted meat, rich without being buttery or heavy:  a grownup cheese that went very well with a grownup wine.  Its texture was firm, smooth, and slightly waxy, with a mouthfeel (not flavor) that reminded me of chocolate.
The Morbier was a little mild for my personal taste–older Morbier can be quite strong.  It was rich and buttery, smooth and meltingly rich.  As a pairing, it brought out bright cherry and black fruit notes in the wine.
In spite of my general preference for the Gruyere, I thought the Morbier worked better with the Lugagnac than the Gruyere did.  In either case, a juicy late-season pear would have made a perfect third.
There’s a venerable wine business maxim:  “Buy on fruit, sell on cheese.”   The tartness of fruit shows a wine’s flavor more starkly and highlights its flaws, whereas cheese softens harsh tannins, brings out fruit notes, and plays up a wine’s best side.  Gruyere and Morbier will probably bring out the best in any bottle.

Cheese and Wine Pairing for October

This month Josh and Ziggy, our representatives from the Deli and the Wine Department respectively, tried pairing Seeing Red Cabernet and Perrydale Aged Gouda from Salem’s Willamette Valley Cheese Company.

 
Josh says:  Perrydale ($18.70/lb.) is the Kiva’s newest offering from Salem’s Willamette Valley Cheese Company.  A blend of sheep’s milk from Roseburg’s Catsby  Farm and local cow’s milk, this cheese is made in the style of a gouda and aged for one year.  The aging process yields a beautifully complex flavor, but with a still-tender creamy paste; however, the most exciting aspect of this cheese is its use of sheep’s milk from one of Oregon’s two commercial sheep dairies.
 
Pairing notes:  The mellow acid of the wine and the slight tang from the sheep’s milk worked well together to balance the creamy richness of the cheese.
 
Ziggy says:  Seeing Red ($13.75) is Columbia Valley juice from Cartel Wine Group.  SeattleMagazine describes Cartel Wine Group as modern-day négociants who buy the wine left over after blending from large established Washington wineries and blend this high-quality surplus themselves.  The result is an affordable wine with the flavor profile of a more expensive bottle. 
 
Seeing Red is a lovely wine for autumn–very fruity and rich, with notes of cassis, ripe berries, herbs, and smoke.  My tasting partner and I also found a hint of astringency and a slight trace of bitterness–both qualities which can be a plus in a food wine.  (Other foods which might pair well with Seeing Red include red meats and stews, hearty tomato-based dishes, and sharp cheeses.)
 
My tasting partner disdains the “stinky” cheeses that I love, and Perrydale pleased us both.  We found it to be strong but not overwhelming, mellow, a little musky and mildly fragrant with a round, creamy, complex flavor profile.  I think it would pair very well with a number of medium- to full-bodied Spanish or Italian red wines.  While it might work with some robust whites and even sweet wines, I think it will go best with red.
 
Perrydale and Seeing Red made an enjoyable match.  The cheese brought out tannic notes from the wine; the wine brought out complex and subtle herbal and bitter notes in the cheese.  Lovely as an intriguing appetizer; satisfying as a savory dessert.

Everything’s Coming Up Rosés

     The drama!  The intrigue!  In a battle of the taste buds who will survive?!  *cue dramatic Iron Chef-type music* 

Huh?  Are we watching reality television?  Is this thing on?

Fortunately (or unfortunately) there will be no Kiva reality series.  (Although, I tend to think it would make for some very entertaining material!) 
There will, however, be another monthly wine and cheese pairing featuring notes from Ziggy and Josh, our wine and cheese buyers.  This one is particularly interesting because of their difference of opinion.  There is only one way to settle this dispute and that is to taste for yourself!
Ziggy: Since it’s beginning to look like spring is here, everything is coming up rosés. 
If you think sweet and sickly when you see pink, you might want to rethink your drink.  Rosés are often misunderstood and their versatility can be under-appreciated.
A rosé wine can vary in color from palest pink through peach and orange hues to varied shades of clear, vivid red; and can vary in palate from delicate to bold.  Some, yes, are sweet, and some are dry with varying degrees of tannin.  The right rosé can complement a mild fish dish or take on a grilled steak, and the color alone won’t tell you a great deal about the character of the wine.
There are several ways rosés arrive at their rosy hue.  Most are made from grapes used to make red wine, either as a single varietal or a blend, and colored by being allowed to remain in contact with the skins, where the pigment resides.  Others may be produced by blending white and red wines.  While this is not a popular method in many regions, there are some very tasty wines that result from it. 
Most rosés will be crisp and have vivid fresh fruit notes like strawberry, cherry, apricot or melon, and, served chilled, will complement and enhance a summer afternoon or evening.
We chose Territorial’s Pinot Noir Rosé for our pairing this month.  The Kiva has carried Territorial wines for many years, and their Rosé has shown consistent quality and been a steady seller.
We are currently stocking the 2010 Rosé; and the 2011 is expected in soon.  I and my tasting partner found it to be drinking extremely well.  While the usual advice about drinking rosé fresh is good, many will continue to show well for at least one or two years after bottling.  Don’t throw ‘em away without uncorking a taste.
We found the 2010 to have a bright, deep rose color.  On the nose, I found notes of violet and strawberry lollipop.  The palate was light, bright, and crisp with lots of soft, icy fruit including cherry and stone fruits.  We drank it chilled but not iced.
My tasting partner and I particularly liked the rosé with the Fern’s Edge Pleasant Hill cheese, which has a young, sharpish cheddar-like flavor, a crumbly texture, and a bite on the finish.  This cheese brought out fresh fruity notes in the wine.  Of the Fern’s Edge cheese we tried, this pairing was by far our favorite.
While Josh and Emma especially enjoyed the Mt. Zion with the rosé, I have to disagree.  The cheese is excellent–earthy, meaty, and scrumptious–but I wanted to pair it with a big, rich, full-bodied wine (like a Washington Cabernet).  I found that it made the rosé taste alkaline and overpowered its bright and fruit notes.
The feta was fresh, rich, mild, and, while salty, it was not overpoweringly so.  We thought it went well with the Territorial Rosé and brought out some tannin on the palate.

The Five Corners was soft, initially mild, but with a complex buttery musk on the finish.  The Territorial Rosé was a pleasing accompaniment, but the butteriness of the cheese seemed to blunt the wine’s acidic crispness a little.

The Kiva stocks a wide range of rosés from many parts of the world.  Pretty in pink on the shelf right now include:

Monmousseau Rosé d’Anjou 2010:  a soft, gentle rosé, just off-dry, from the Anjou district of the Western Loire region.  50% Grolleau, an unusual variety primarily found in Rosé d’Anjou, and 50% Cab Franc.  Very easy to drink, fruity and pleasing.  Pairs well with fresh goat cheeses, mild pork or chicken dishes.  Also–like most rosés–a pleasant tipple for a summer afternoon.  $11.75

 Chapoutier Les Vignes de Bila-Haut Pays d’Oc 2011:  Less than 1000 cases produced.  I found this to be crisp and lucid, with clean, clear berry fruits.  Quite dry but not acerbic.  Made from a blend of Grenache and Cinsault grapes from the Roussillon region.  Many pairings are possible, but grilled chicken and vegetables is a top choice.   $15.50
 Calcu Rosé 2010:  A perennial favorite of mine from the Valle de Colchagua, Chile.  Made from 50% Malbec, 40% Syrah, and 10% Petit Verdot, there is some complexity to this round, slightly magical blend.  It deserves its name, which means “magician” in a local language.  $11.75
 Druid’s Fluid Pink 2009:  Lightly sweet, fruity, and easy to drink, Druid’s Fluid wines hail from Oregon’s Troon Vineyards in the Applegate Valley.  If you’re looking for a crowd-pleaser, it’s “the wine for everyone”–in their own words.  $12.00
 Hey Mambo Kinky Pink 2010:  A California Pinot Noir Rosé.  A tasty, dry rosé that will cool off a hot afternoon, accompany salmon on the barbeque, or otherwise serve any function you desire of a dry rosé.  Good value–and a fun name.  $10.50
 Melrose Two Dog Red 2009:  Sweet but not too sweet, with a residual sugar of 1.7%, this rosé contains a fair amount of Pinot Gris.  Another easy quaffer for a warm summer night, it would also make a good aperitif with many hors d’oeuvres.  $12.00
 Cardwell Hill Rosé of Pinot Noir 2011:  From a small producer of excellent Pinot Noir, Cardwell Hill’s Rosé is dry and bright with a cherry/berry nose and a fresh finish.  A fine value and versatile dinner guest from the Willamette Valley.  $10.50
 Charles & Charles Rosé 2011:  Yes, you can drink rosé and still be bad… Edgy packaging and copy, and a solid mouthful of dry, bright syrah rosé.  A bucket of ice is all it lacks.  $10.50
 Del Rio Rosé Jolee: A rosé that tastes sweeter than its official figure of .5% residual sugar because of the predominance of the heavenly fragrant Early Muscat that makes up 63% of the blend.  17% Riesling and 20% blend of red grapes makes up the rest of this salmon-colored wine that would be equally at home with spicy Asian food or a cheesecake dessert.  $11.75
 This list is not exhaustive, and it doesn’t even touch sparkling rosés, which also come in a spectrum ranging from the fascinating, complicated, and elegant to fizzy pink grown-up soda-pop.  As the season warms up (yes, it will–I think it will…) we’ll be seeing more rosés from France, Spain, and Italy.  Ask Ziggy to tell you exactly what’s in stock!
Josh: “I don’t have to go away for the weekend, I’m already here, ” says Fern’s Edge Goat Dairy owner, Shari, as she casts a proud glance across her farm indicating her view of Dexter Lake through the trees. She has been raising award-winning dairy goats at her beautiful farm in Lowell since the early 1970’s.  

Happy goats produce good-quality milk, and her goats have every reason to be happy.  Each goat is named and cared for as a member of the family, grows up on organic feed, dutifully produces milk, and then retires with her fellow “beloved old ladies” to live out her days in the bucolic pastures of the farm.  She pays to have each goat’s milk tested every three weeks to ensure the health of the animals and the quality of the milk.  Her impeccably-clean dairy results in fresh, clean-tasting cheeses that would never be described as “goaty”.  
I chose to celebrate this devotion to sustainable farming, happy, healthy goats, and high-quality local cheese, by selecting Fern’s Edge Goat Dairy’s pride and joy, their Mt. Zion aged goat cheese, for this month’s wine and cheese pairing:
The Wine: Territorial Vineyard’s Rosé is fruity, bright and clean, portending of lazy summer evenings to come.
The Cheese: Mt. Zion is a raw, toothsome aged artisan farmstead goat cheese in the style of a Spanish Manchego.  This cheese serves as a showpiece for a great collaboration between the goat herd owner and cheese-maker that brings together decades of of dairy goat experience with generations of cheese-making experience.
The Pairing: A good, straight-ahead, innocently refreshing rosé meets an older, more seasoned cheese and suddenly becomes more interesting.  

Celebrate well-made local food and drink and enjoy!