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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 for 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!
This month Josh and I wanted to emphasize a cheese and a wine that turned out not to be an ideal pairing, no matter how delightful each might be in different pairings, so we decided to spotlight these products individually.
Sleeping Beauty from Cascadia Creamery
This month, I’m excited to feature the newest addition to our artisan cheese selection. Sleeping Beauty, a semi-hard natural-rind cheese from Cascadia Creamery, is produced just across the Columbia in Trout Lake, Washington. Cascadia Creamery is a family run business that produces raw, certified organic artisan cheeses using milk from local pasture-raised cows.
Sleeping Beauty is aged to create a slightly dry, pleasantly chalky paste. It has a mild flavor with a slight tang and a rich buttery finish. Each wheel is charmingly decorated by hand by the cheese maker’s wife, as a final touch that underscores the love and attention that goes into each cheese.
One of only four cheeses Cascadia Creamery produces, Sleeping Beauty is named for the lovely valley that lies between Mt. Adams and Mt. Hood in the Cascade Range.
Sleeping Beauty has a sweet milky or buttery scent, not at all like the stronger aromas associated with some cheeses. Mild and rich in the mouth, but with complex savory and herbal notes. I notice that cheeses made from grassfed milk often have more interesting herbal tones.
I think it would benefit from being served with wine or fruit to refresh the palate; I found that a few bites into the firm but pleasantly yielding paste I began to become desensitized to the subtler nuances.
Season Cellars’ 2012 Marsanne-Roussanne
57% Marsanne 38% Roussanne 5% Viognier
Season Cellars is a young, family-owned winery in Winston, Oregon. They buy all their fruit from some of the excellent vineyards in Southern Oregon, and produce a variety of impressive wines, including Malbec, Syrah, Viognier, and a blend of Muller-Thurgau, Muscat, and Riesling called Transparency that might have made an excellent accompaniment to the Sleeping Beauty.
Marsanne and Roussanne are varietals from the Rhone region of France, and I thought Season Cellars Marsanne-Roussanne had some of the character of classic white wines I’ve tasted from the Rhone in its assertive and food-friendly qualities, along with the freshness and ripeness I associate with Southern Oregon wines.
On the nose we detected fresh-sliced apple, subtle stone fruit, and a hint of minerality.
On the palate, this wine was dry and bright, with notes of apple, citrus, cream, tropical fruits, and subtle minerals. It is big enough to stand no nonsense from food, and would pair very well with cream sauces or heavily-herbed preparations of chicken or fish, and is interesting enough to enjoy all by itself.
The makers recommend pairing it with spicy Asian foods. I have not experimented with this, but if you’d rather have a really good dry white wine than the oft-recommended sake, cider, or Gewurtztraminer with your Szechuan feast, it’s definitely worth a try.
Sleeping Beauty and Season Cellars Marsanne-Roussanne? This was an example of a pairing that contrasted rather than complemented. The wine was a little too boisterous for the very delicate and gentle flavors of the cheese, but when sipped with restraint it cleansed and reset the palate completely, cutting a clean swath.
In defense of this pairing, I found that eating the cheese was like sinking into a warm, comfortable chair, and the wine was like a cold slap of rain that woke my taste buds up and made them alert to all the nuances of the cheese when it began to cloy. It would make an excellent wine for a selection of cheeses.
If I had it to do over, however, I would pair this cheese with a softer and more retiring wine–a Viognier with just a little bit of residual sugar seems like it might be an ideal match, a soft rose, a moderately dry Riesling, or the aforementioned Season Cellars Transparency–and I would save the excellent Marsanne-Roussanne for tougher game.
Jaillance Crémant de Bourgogne Brut and Delice de Bourgogne
Reviewed by Ziggy, Kiva Beer & Wine, and Josh, Kiva Deli Manager
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.
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.
Gruyere and Morbier
with Chateau Lugagnac Bordeaux Supérieur
Reviewed by Ziggy (Kiva Beer & Wine) and Josh (Kiva Deli)
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.
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.
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.
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.