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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!

 

 

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.

Fit For a King

winecheeseclipartWelcome to the latest edition to our blog: monthly wine and cheese pairings brought to you by Ziggy our wine buyer and Josh our cheese monger.  We hope to educate and entice.  
      This month, we bring you Port and Stilton.
Josh:  Stilton, England’s only name-protected cheese, is the pride of the British cheese-making culture.  It is known world-wide by fans as the “King of Cheese”.  It is made of full-cream cows milk from iron-rich pastures in select counties, and has a full, complex flavor.  Stilton’s texture is creamy yet it crumbles nicely for salads or little snack-sized morsels.  It is a beautiful aged blue with a signature naturally-forming crusty rind.
Port wine and Stilton is one of the classic pairings.  The sweet complexity of the wine compliments the full salty flavor of the cheese without getting lost in it, creating a backdrop that helps to exhibit the layered flavor profile of the cheese.  Try this combination for a gastronomic experience fit for a king.  At the Kiva we offer Long Clawson Stilton, $15.45 per pound.  Also try the Shropshire Blue, (Stilton’s cousin), which is $15.60 per pound.
Ziggy: While American Port-style wines are often given that name, true Port is a product of the Douro Valley in Portugal, which has been famous for production of these wines since the 18th Century.  It is a fortified wine, meaning that during production the fermentation is halted by the addition of neutral grape spirits, which results in higher residual sugar and alcohol content.

     Most Ports are sweet, rich, and silky, though the sweetness varies a great deal by brand and style.  They have traditionally been served as dessert wines or aperitifs (before a meal), which coincides with the serving of cheese, which is often used as an appetizer and even more often as a dessert treat, especially in Europe.
     Some of the most basic styles of Port include Ruby, in which the wine is fermented in concrete or stainless steel tanks which prevent the oxidation that gives Tawny Port its characteristic color.  Ruby Port is a deep burgundy color, with more of the fruitiness of the grapes intact and a slightly thinner texture.  Rubies are the least expensive and most produced of the Port family.  It is meant to be consumed without long aging.
     Tawny Port is aged in wooden barrels which allows oxidation and evaporation, resulting in a “tawny” color, a nutty flavor, a more concentrated palate and a thicker mouth feel.  Tawny Port may be aged for many years.
     White Ports exist in a variety of ages, qualities, and degrees of dryness.  It is often served as an aperitif and used as a mixer in cocktails.
     Rose Port is a recent addition to the lineup, first produced in 2008.  I find that it pairs well with chocolate (another traditional pairing with Port) but not as well with Stilton as other ports.
     Port and Stilton cheese are a longstanding traditional pairing, especially during the winter holiday season.  Right now, in the dark, dank, cold February of Eugene, Port and Stilton can offer a delicious, cheering, and warming after-dinner treat.  Opposites attract!  The rich, creamy, salty, and pungent tastes of Stilton are complemented and enhanced by the silky sweetness of Port; they blend well in the mouth, resulting in a fascinating alchemy of flavor that begs for another bite and sip.
     While Tawny Ports are often paired with Stilton and other sharp blue cheeses, I find Rubies are my favorite in this pairing–their higher acidity seems to complement the cheese (this is a personal taste, however–your mileage may vary).  Ziggy’s favorite picks:   Noval Black Porto ($20 on sale, regularly $30), Kopke Ruby Port ($17), and Fonseca Ruby Port ($15.75).  All are sweet and rich, but to my palate have plenty of flavor and depth to back up the sweetness.
     Other Ports in stock include Dow’s White ($16.75), Dow’s Fine Tawny ($14.75), Dow’s Late Bottled ($23.25); Kopke 10-Year Old Port in 750 ml bottles ($35) and 350 ml bottles ($21); Graham’s Six Grapes Reserve ($22).

American “Ports” we have include Marietta Port from California (excellent but out of stock right now); Alex Eli “Conversation” Port from Oregon ($15.75 for 375 ml, 100% Sangiovese.  An ethereal and moderately sweet Port-style wine which would pair well with many blue cheeses–I would recommend trying it with Oregonzola), and Terra d’Oro Zinfandel Port ($10.50 for 375 ml.  I balk at calling this Port, though it is an excellent Zinfandel dessert wine which would pair well with many sharp cheeses).
Other wines which pair well with Stilton and other pungent blues include sweet sherries and dessert Muscat wines.
Other classic pairings with Port include chocolate (especially dark chocolate) and rich chocolate desserts and smoked sausage and fish.