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Category Archives: wine

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.

The Season of Rain and Chanterelles

A match made in Heaven

Well, here it is: after a record-breaking dry spell, the old familiar cold and rain have finally arrived.  Some of us love it; some of us hate it; and some of us tolerate the long grey months because we know that they have their rewards.

Rewards?  Yes, there are a few.  What’s rain in the valley is usually snow in the higher elevations, providing sport for skiers and snowboarders.  After we wait out a soggy winter we often have a beautiful spring (a little lacking in recent years) and wonderful summers, for a start.

And for the intrepid hiker who isn’t afraid of damp feet and slippery footing, Oregon’s forests can be beautiful in the rainy season, and the many species of fascinating and edible mushrooms that spring up when the rain comes down are a reason to welcome the wet.

Of the wealth of the Northwest’s wild mushrooms, one of the most versatile–and certainly the best-known–is the Chanterelle.
Rob Miller has been the Kiva’s major supplier of chanterelles for about a decade–often our sole supplier.  Our produce department likes the fresh, clean, sound mushrooms he brings us, as well as his reliability and his sensitivity to the areas in which he picks.

“I don’t like to work with intangibles,” he says; he made the choice long ago to be out in the weather hunting for chanterelles rather than sitting behind a desk shuffling numbers.  Rob says he loves to spend time in nature and take longs walks in the forests where he harvests fungal delicacies; he needs time in the wild to be happy.  This is especially lucky this year, since unusual weather (the long, late-summer dry spell followed by not only rain, but cold) has made this year’s mushroom crop scarce and harder to find–the worst year for picking that Rob has seen.

Since we don’t all have the time, ability, or know-how to go on those long walks ourselves, many of us rely on the convenient commercial availabilty of chanterelles and other wild mushrooms.  Having someone else do the legwork can be well worth the time and effort saved for busy folks, even though this year’s smaller harvest has driven prices up.

Chanterelles have a nutty, savory, delicate flavor with wide appeal–varieties of this mushroom grow in the northerly areas of Europe, Asia, and America, and they’re relished in many different cuisines.  There are endless ways to prepare and enjoy them; a quick search for “chanterelle recipes” on Google yielded 42,000 hits!

Chanterelle recipes are easier to find than mushrooms, but in search of more, I solicited recipes from Kiva employees this week and got some to add to the record.

A caveat:  these are not recipes written or tested by professional chefs, so use your own judgement.  Your mileage may vary!

The simplest came from Tom, our local grocery buyer.  He likes to slice, pan-fry, and eat chanterelles before they leave the skillet.  It doesn’t get easier than that!

Dave, one of our produce managers, offered this recipe:

Dave’s Kale with Chanterelle

Dave and a tasty friend

1 bunch Italian kale, chopped
A couple of medium-large chanterelles, halved
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 small or 1 large shallot, minced
A couple tablespoons olive oil
In a skillet, heat the oil over medium heat.  Add minced garlic, stir until garlic is translucent.  Add minced shallots, simmer until translucent.  Lower the heat and add the chopped kale.

In a separate pan, heat the chanterelles until they release liquid, then add them to the kale mixture.  Season to taste with sea salt and black pepper; serve immediately.

—–

Our wine buyer Ziggy makes this creamy Chanterelle Chicken every autumn at least once.  As you might expect, wine plays an important part in this dish.

Ziggy’s Chanterelle Chicken (serves 4 to 6)

Ziggy’s Chanterelle Chicken Sauce ready to serve

2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, browned and cubed (1/2 inch cubes)

About 1 lb chanterelles, chopped fairly small
Two very large or four small shallots, minced
2/3 to ¾  bottle of dry white wine for cooking
½ pint heavy cream or Half-and-Half
4 Tablespoons butter, give or take a little
A couple of Tablespoons of flour
Fettuccine pasta, preferably fresh
The proportions of this recipe are very flexible, and I vary them every time I make it with the same great results.
Melt the butter in a heavy-bottomed skillet until bubbling; add the minced shallots.  Cook until translucent (don’t let them brown), then add the chopped chanterelles.  Heat until mushrooms are cooked through and have released their liquid; cook a few more minutes, then add the white wine in dollops of about a cup and let reduce between each addition.  Allow some time for this; I generally let the shallot-chanterelle mixture simmer for an hour or more while adding wine slowly.  (Chanterelles, like many foods, have alcohol-soluble factors that release and develop flavor during cooking with wine.)
Note:  For cooking wine I used the Domino Pinot Grigio; any crisp, dry white wine would do, though for my personal taste I prefer not to use Chardonnay for cooking.  The usual caution about not cooking with wine you wouldn’t want to drink applies; you don’t want to cook with wine which is “off” or yucky.  However, I do often cook with wine which is simpler (and less expensive) than I usually want to sip with dinner.
Brown the chicken on a grill or in a separate skillet with a little additional butter or olive oil.  I usually cook it whole over medium or medium-high heat until the surface is browned, then cut it in cubes and brown the cut sides lightly.  The chicken can then be set aside while the shallot-chanterelle-wine mixture cooks down.
When the sauce is thickening but still contains a fair amount of liquid, add the browned chicken (the good stuff in the pan can be deglazed with a little wine and added along with the chicken) and simmer until the chicken is fully cooked.  The meat absorbs the flavor.
The flour is used to thicken the finished sauce; it can either be sprinkled lightly over the mixture and stirred in until the sauce gets a little dry, or a roux can be made in a separate pan or skillet (heat a little extra butter until bubbly; add the flour and cook for a few minutes without letting the mixture brown) and then added back into the main mixture.
After the sauce is thickened, add cream to taste (I like it to be a gravy-like consistency) and serve it over pasta.  (Pasta Plus’s fresh linguine is my favorite.)

This is a traditional autumn recipe in my house, and I always pair it with an oaked Chardonnay which complements the savory woody notes of the mushrooms.  I recommend Stangeland for an Oregon Chardonnay (oaky but also floral and subtle with some crispness left), or J. Lohr’s Riverstone or Arroyo Vista Chardonnays for Californiawine.

Pear and Blue Cheese Salad

I also always accompany the Chanterelle Chicken with a pear/blue-cheese salad.  Any pear of your choice can be sliced or cubed, topped with small pieces of blue cheese (I love the Fourme D’Ambert, which is sweet and nutty and complements fruit very well), and crushed roasted hazelnuts, covered with a balsamic vinaigrette and served on a bed of greens.

That’s it for now.  Next week we’ll be back with a few other recipes from familiar faces at the Kiva.  In the meantime,  tell us–what do you do with chanterelles?

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!

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.