Wine And Cheese Friday http://wineandcheesefriday.lan reviews of Wines, Cheeses and all things related Sat, 21 Jul 2018 05:36:20 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Wine Tasting in Pennsylvania 2018 http://wineandcheesefriday.lan/wine-tasting-in-pennsylvania-2018/ Sat, 21 Jul 2018 05:23:35 +0000 http://wineandcheesefriday.lan/?p=2907 Lake Erie Wine Trail 2018

As we began planning our time in Pennsylvania, I knew we’d take our annual trip out to the wineries with Neil’s cousin Diane. I created a list of all the places we’ve visited in previous years as well as some of the brands that had been shared with us at picnics and dinners. Then I consulted the Lake Erie Wine Country website, my go-to guide when we come here. The wine trail goes up and down Lake Erie through Pennsylvania and New York. This year I chose two wineries in Pennsylvania within 10-15 minutes from where we were staying as I figured this year could be more of a relaxed wine tasting trip. The first winery was Presque Isle Wine Cellars, which was not only close by but also their website suggested you could bring a picnic lunch and sit near the creek (locals pronounce this “crick”). The second winery, Penn Shore Winery and Vineyards,, also made note of relaxing with a glass of wine as you take in the vineyard views. Sounds like just the break we could use!

Presque Isle Wine Cellars Tasting Room

We were a little confused about which part of the Presque Isle Wine Cellars property the tastings were held. This organization offers winemaking supplies and chemicals as well as being a winery so their website has quite a bit on it. There was also mention of a restaurant but it seemed they were making some changes. Luckily when we arrived, there was a sign that said “Tasting Room” so we found our way in. Khila, our wine server for the day, was in the process of filling some holes in the wall in preparation for painting the walls so apparently the transition away from restaurant was taking place now! Well that explains it!

Presque Isle Wines

The wine tasting list was quite extensive (with over 30 wines) and there were a couple different options: $3 for 6 tastings or $5 for 6 premium wines. Diane and I chose the regular tastings and Neil chose the premium tasting.

Here’s the list of what was available:

Dry Wines (0% residual sugar)
Merlot 2013
Dornfelder 2016
Cabernet Sauvignon 2013
Ripper Red
Noiret 2016

Pinot Grigio 2016
Pinot Blanc 2016
Chardonnay 2015
Viognier 2013

Semi-Dry Wines (1 to 2.5% residual sugar)
Freeport Red
Freeport White
Riesling 2016
Reflections 2015
Traminette 2016

Semi-Sweet Wines (3 to 4% residual sugar)
White & Rosé
Bianco Fresco 2016
Blue Note

Sweet Wines
Blushing Heron
Pink Catawba
Creekside Red
Creekside Blush
Creekside Concord
Creekside Niagara

Falling Waters 2015

Fruit Wine
True Blue

Premium Wines
Pinot Noir 2016
Cab Franc 2016
Chardonnay Cuveé 2016
Touriga Port
Scarlet Kisses 187ml
Eskimo Kisses
Cinnful Kisses
Hot Kisses

Then came the hard part of deciding which wines to taste. Luckily they were already separated into dry, semi-dry, semi-sweet, sweet, sparkling, fruit and premium. I think between the three of us we chose at least one from each category. Diane typically gravitates to the sweeter wines and Neil and I generally enjoy drier wines. Although this trip I had a different strategy: choose some of the more popular wines for the area instead of trying to only stay in the dry categories. Some of the well-known grapes of the region are Concord (emphasis on the second syllable), Niagara, Catawba and Fredonia, but you can find Merlot, Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and some of the more traditional wine grapes too.

Presque Isle Wine Cellars Awards

One of the things that was hard to miss about the tasting menu was all the medals the wines had won! We tried so many Gold and Silver winners that day. Another thing we made note of was that the wines really did taste like the tasting notes on the menu, pretty cool.

I began my tasting with the 2013 Viognier, making note of the butterscotch candy aromas, the light body and the toast flavor. Diane started with the Reflections, the wine of the month, and it didn’t disappoint her. She picked up a hint of champagne, a light body, and a hint of fruit. She’s not usually a white wine drinker so it really surprised her when she decided to take a bottle home! Neil, being the Pinot Noir lover that he is, began with his standby. I’d say it was pretty true to it’s varietal with a little funk, pepper, and earthy aromas. The flavors included pepper, very earthy flavors yet a light body and it was dry.

Presque Isle Wine Cellars Wine Tasting

Continuing through the Semi-Dry white wines I picked out the Riesling and Traminette. I knew that Riesling could grow in this region but I’m not sure if I’ve tried it in past trips. The initial aromas were a bit dry and musty but then it changed to lemon aromas. This was also a light wine but there were noticeable flavors of sweet grapefruit. Another wine true to it’s notes! I’ve heard of Traminette during our previous trips but I was pleasantly surprised when it had perfume aromas and a sweet but not too sweet flavor! Diane noticed similar notes when she tried the Blusé, a semi sweet rosé. She said it wasn’t quite dry or sweet but she did pick up watermelon and blueberry flavors.

Let’s check back in with Neil and his Premium wines! Next on his list was the Carmine, a cross of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Carignan. Wow that sounds really interesting! It’s so cool how the grape growers up here have to be creative with the grapes they choose to grow since the conditions are so different from the other US regions. Neil picked up dark chocolate aromas and fruity flavors similar to cherry and raspberry. Next up he tried the Cabernet Franc, another grape commonly grown in these northern US regions. This one reminded him of a Chianti with pasta sauce and grassy aromas and a super slight cherry jolly rancher flavor. It seems neither of these wines matched up with the tasting notes but that’s all part of wine tasting, right?

Diane and I both found a handful of wines to try in the Sweet Wines category. There were two blush wines in this section and we both started with the Blushing Heron, which Diane described as a great blend of Concord and Niagara grapes. The past 3 times that we’ve gotten together for wine tasting (and then the following party with all our goodies) we always have a wine with these 2 grapes so I was certainly curious to give it a try too. It smelled sweet, floral and very good! The flavor was crisp & sweet but also smooth like honey. Diane picked up a hint of strawberry, a light body and fruity flavors. She knew she’d want to bring a bottle to the party next week so she purchased one of the 1.5L bottles to share with everyone. The other blush wine is called Creekside Blush but as Khila suggested, if you like the Blushing Heron, you aren’t usually crazy about this one. Diane found it to be too light on taste, and she couldn’t decipher the fruit. Although it was blush, it was more of a strawberry red color. We both tried the Creekside Red, one of their newer wines, a blend of Fredonia and Chambourcin. These grapes were also familiar to me for this part of the US. I was surprised when I thought it smelled like vanilla birthday cake but then it changed to strawberry shortcake. This light wine had cranberry flavors and a smooth finish. I knew it’d be a good one when we hung out in the hot tub the next day and it didn’t disappoint! Diane noticed the familiar flavor of the Fredonia grape but thought it tasted different than other Fredonia wines she’s tried.

Presque Isle Grape Growers

Presque Isle Wine Cellars purchases their grapes from many of the local growers as well as some local blueberries for their BluSecco and True Blue wines. Diane tried both of them and thought the dry flavor of the BluSecco would go well with chocolate cake. I thought it had a good amount of bubbles and could smell the blueberry aromas. Diane picked up the blueberry flavors in the True Blue and we were all intrigued when Khila suggested having it with shortcake and vanilla ice cream. Another cool thing was that Diane knows a lot of the grape growing families around area so she picked out quite a few familiar names on the list.

Presque Isle Wine Cellars Hot Kisses

Neil was content in trying his other set of wines while Diane and I chose similar tastes. It seems he probably began with the Chardonnay Cuveé as I continue to write this up since white wines come before reds so let’s not miss out on that one. Neil picked up apricot aromas, citrus, honeydew melon, and slight mineral flavors. Another one of those traditional wine grapes that can also grow here. Have you tried wines from this area before? If you have, you probably know what type of wine Neil finished his tasting with: Ice Wine! Presque Isle Wine Cellars makes 3 ice wines with the same base and then they have different things added to them. Neil had the chance to try the Cinnful Kisses with it’s apple pie aromas and cinnamon sweetness. He knew it would be one that the group would like next week so stay tuned for how that will pair with cheese! And if you know Neil, you know he couldn’t resist the Hot Kisses with a Thai pepper floating in it! It was very spicy, with big sweet grape and apple flavors. He was sad when he finished out that sample!

Creekside Picnic at Presque Isle Wine Cellars

What a fun way to start the day but after our 6 tastes each, we were ready to have that picnic by the creek! We made our way down the picnic table and pulled out all our goodies. It was our traditional mix of meats, cheese, veggies, and nuts but definitely helped to get us ready to taste another set of wines. It was so peaceful, we could have stayed there all day!

Presque Isle Wine Cellars Chemicals

Before leaving, we stopped in the shop to see the wine making supplies and chemicals. It’s been a while since I’ve worked in a winery so it was fun to be exposed to that side of things once again. If you dabble in wine making yourself, check out their website for any supplies you might need!

Penn Shore Winery and Vineyard barrel head

Just a short 10 minute ride toward the Lake and we arrived at Penn Shore Winery and Vineyard, This building seemed more industrial than the first winery but the giant barrel head with their name on it certainly caught my eye. We walked under the pergola of grapes and entered the gift shop area. After a quick look through the wine trinkets, we began our tasting with Jenny. She let us know that we could taste up to 7 wines for only $2 and all the wines on the list were included in this pricing.

Penn Shore Winery and Vineyard Pergola

There was quite a collection of wines available:

Table Wines
Crystal Lake White
Pink Catawba
Dry Concord
Red Wine

Sparkling Wines
Bubbling Niagara

Vintage Wines
Seyval Blanc
Baco Noir

Specialty Wines
Holiday Spice

The way the wines are broken down on the menu, it was a little tricky to figure out what order to taste them in but luckily Jenny gave us a hand. We all checked off the wines we wanted to try and began our tasting. The Vintage Wines part of the menu had some dry wines so let’s get started. Neil’s first wine was Seyval Blanc, a super tart, lemon, mineral flavored white wine. Diane and I began with the Reflections wine, a Riesling with the same name as the other winery, that’s confusing! Diane found it to be sweeter and not too dry. I thought this one started musty too but then it was sweet and tangy. I guess the Riesling is a little different here in PA. Neil and Diane continued on to red wines in this category. Neil tried the Chancellor, that smelled like a black cherry cordial but tasted “musky” with a little smoke. Diane tasted the Merlot, and questioned how she smelled the lake and old cheese. The wine was light with a full taste and a rich flavor. That’s quite a difference in flavor and aroma!

Penn Shore Winery and Vineyard Wine Tasting

My tasting path brought me over to the Table Wines section with the Burgundy wine. This wine is made from Marechal Foch, a local red grape. I picked up cranberry and light berry aromas. The flavors were sweet, black pepper and some acidity. Neil also tasted this wine and thought it smelled like a sweet cordial. He found musky, dark cherry and a hint of sweet flavors.

Penn Shore Winery and Vineyard Medals

Before the Burgundy, Neil tried the Dry Concord, which he described as very Concord, very good but not too sweet and a little puckery. There were a few Concord wines on the tasting list. In addition to the Dry Concord there was a traditional Concord. The aroma of the Concord wine transported Diane to a familiar scent that you pick up all over this area in September. Did you know that this area is famous for growing the grapes used in Welch’s products? Well now you do! She found the flavor to taste like Grape Koolaid, that’s pretty close to Welch’s grape juice so that makes sense. The final Concord wine, Lambruscano, was a blend of Concord and a hybrid grape. It had that token Concord aroma but also berries. The wine has a tangy, Concord flavor with a bubble gum finish. Diane noticed pretty much the same notes, she tasted the Concord grape, bubble gum and said it was not too heavy. Jenny told us that the Concord wine always wins gold and double gold medals. And when asked about the most popular wine she said it’s definitely the Lambruscano. We must have known since all of us tasted these wines.

Now back to some white wines. Neil and Diane both tasted the Diamond wine. Diane found it to have a great taste that was like tangerine with a light body. Neil found grassy and lake aromas but agreed with the citrus flavors similar to tangerine. He called it yummy and thought it tasted fortified. Diane found citrus flavors in the Crystal Lake White wine also. This one tasted like tangerine and mandarin but she didn’t care for the perfume aromas. I found it to smell floral too but there was an aroma of petrol, as well. The wine was tart but also sweet tangerine.

Penn Shore Winery and Vineyard Pink Catawba

I guess I started to have some palate fatigue at this point because every wine from this point on started to have bubble gum flavors and aromas. It all began with the Pink Catawba that smelled and tasted like bubble gum, weird! Luckily that didn’t happen to everyone. Neil liked the floral, perfume aromas, made note of the color being similar to a Provence rosé but it was a very, very sweet grape! The Bubbling Niagara was another wine that confused us. Neil could smell yeast aromas and it seemed almost beer-like but he thought it was really good. I liked the texture of the bubbles but tasted more bubble gum. Darn!

We closed out our tasting with the Specialty Wines. Diane found the Kir to be on the lighter side and to taste like blackberries. I noticed earth and berry aromas but then found that bubble gum flavor again. Diane was excited to finish her tasting with the Holiday Spice wine. Many of the local wineries offer a wine like this and they suggest that you serve it warm. She said it definitely smelled like the holidays and had flavors of cinnamon and warm apple pie. She plans to go back in the Fall to pick up a bottle.

We were grateful for all of Jenny’s help that day and her guidance through the wines from the oldest winery in PA. Another cool tidbit about the winery is that they use the Champagne Method to make their champagne, so it’s unofficially a “champagne.” Due to it’s labor intensive process, they have a limited quantity and don’t offer tastings of it. Shucks!

Before we got going, we all talked about which wines we should purchase. Diane continued to surprise herself when choosing to take home 2 white wines, Crystal Lake and Diamond. Neil really liked the Dry Concord and decided to get two bottles, one for our group tasting and another just to enjoy. I liked the Lambruscano but thought the Dry Concord was pretty good too with the different levels of flavors in the wine. The winery did offer a self-guided tour too but we decided to save that for another day.

Penn Shore Winery Self-guided tour

After all our wine tasting, we weren’t ready for our day to end so we made our way into New York to visit Cadwells Cheese Shop, We’d been here before but it was such a beautiful day, how can you pass up taking a drive through the country? You know I had no issue extending our day to include some cheese. 🧀

Cadwell's Cheese House

Well, this impromptu trip certainly added to our haul to bring home. Diane knows how much her parents like the Cranberry Wensleydale and NY sharp cheddar so she didn’t have to think too hard about what to get. I remembered there was a terrific selection when we stepped into the store. Would it surprise you if I told you Neil and I took home 5 wedges of cheese? I know it wouldn’t. Funny thing though is that we picked out 3 that looked so tasty without even considering them to pair with wine. We just wanted to eat the Mango Ginger Stilton, Sage Derby and Onion and Chive cheeses! We also needed a couple cheeses to include in our Wine and Cheese Gift basket. We figured the NY cheddar and Blueberry stilton would be a nice complement to the sweet NY red wine we had in mind.

Mango Ginger Stilton, Sage Derby and Onion Chive cheeses

We always have such a good time wine tasting with Diane on the Lake Erie Wine Trail! There are so many vineyards, farmhouses and beautiful views of the lake. It’s definitely on my list of happy places and it should be no surprise that we already have the wineries picked out for our visit up here in 2019.

Curious about our other tastings on the Lake Erie Wine Trail?

Presque Isle Wine Cellars Creekside

Lake Erie Wine Alliance

Presque Isle Wine Cellars Creekside Red

Vinebox 2 and Carolina Bleu Marble http://wineandcheesefriday.lan/vinebox-2-and-carolina-bleu-marble/ Fri, 06 Jul 2018 16:26:31 +0000 http://wineandcheesefriday.lan/?p=2901 Vinebox 2 and Carolina Bleu Marble 1

Our second Vinebox shipment included a White, Rosé and a Red; what a great mix! Oh, you’ve never heard of Vinebox? Why not read our introduction explaining Vinebox in the entry from our first shipment. ( Now to figure out which cheese to pick? We had our eye on a North Carolina blue cheese that looked like marble, lets try that. It will be interesting to see how this blue pairs with all the colors of wine!

Here’s our tasting flight for the day:
Domaine de la Roche Moreau, Coteaux du Layon, 1er cru Chaume, Loire Valley, France 2016 (Chenin Blanc)
Chateau de Brégançon, Rosé de Provence, France 2017 (Cinsault, Grenache, Syrah)
Ca’ De Lion, Piedmont, Italy 2017 (Grignolino grape)

Carolina Bleu Marble by Ashe County Cheese

Vinebox 2 Domaine de la Roche Moreau Coteaux du Layon, Rose de Provence, and Ca’ De Lion

The first wine by Domaine de la Roche Moreau was a white wine from Loire Valley. This wine had a bunch of details included with it, not only is it from Loire but the specific part of the region is Coteaux du Layon and it is classified as 1er cru Chaume. Since we aren’t all that familiar with wines from the Loire Valley, we began swirling to see what aromas we could identify. Neil started by noting its caramel color and wine legs. There are cards with each wine describing the tasting notes but we love to figure out our own notes before consulting them. This one was a bit of an issue because it had sweet caramel aromas leaping from the glass. And then a taste confirmed, “This is a sweet one.” Oops, guess we messed up our palates a little.

Oh well, we can still continue taking our notes since we know it’s sweet now. Maria picked up apple, pear, floral, pineapple and honey aromas. Neil agreed with the apple and pear but he thought it was caramel too. When we tasted it, we knew it was a thick, sweet wine. Neil called it candy sweet like a jolly rancher or lollipop and maybe some apple. I thought it tasted like caramel and it wasn’t at all what I expected. Knowing that it was a white wine and it was in the first position of the Vinebox, we had guessed it would have been a dry white. The “cards” called it a “wildflower honey-scented snow cone” so it was no secret once we took a peek at those.

This cheese was made by Ashe County cheese and is called Carolina Bleu Marble, What a cool idea, a blue cheese that was marbled. Never saw anything like that before! As I looked more at the cheese I noticed there were tiny specks of spices in it and it was kind of slippery. I think it needed to breath a bit once we took it out of the shrink-wrap. Neil could smell it throughout the house so we knew it had a strong blue aroma! There was definitely a pungent funk emanating from it as well as milky, herbal and blueberry aromas. Neil found it to have a strange subtle sweetness in addition to the milky, blue flavor. I thought it was tart, tangy, dry and creamy with an acidic finish. This cheese coated my tongue too which is usually a set up for how it will pair with the wine.

And speaking of that, let’s see how it works with the Domaine de la Roche Moreau Chenin Blanc? We guessed they would go well together since they were sweet and funky. Neil noticed the wine to tone down the strong funk of the cheese but somehow the wine became even sweeter. He didn’t think it was a good pairing. I smelled sweet pineapple aromas in the wine but it was drier going down my throat and it heated up my tongue. I don’t think there was much of a change with the cheese. I’m not sure about this pairing and we ran out of wine so I guess my time was up to make a decision. At least there are two more wines to try.

The second wine was a Chateau de Brégançon, Rosé de Provence but you really needed to look hard to see the pinkish tint. This is one of the characteristics of rosés of this region but aside from that, I need to taste more wines to know more about this huge rosé producing area. And that we will! I liked how aromatic this wine was, some sweetness, berry, and bubble gum. Neil thought the scent was a little strange when he noticed it smelled crisp and like cotton candy, but then he picked up the lavendar floral aromas. Way to go Neil, those flowers are a symbol for the Provence area! Once I took a sip of wine, it was light and tart with a flavorful finish and acidic too. The second sip was different than the first but then it was full of flavor again. I’d be curious to try this iconic type of rosé again! Neil picked up flavors of strawberry and bubble gum but called it tart and light. He found it to be an interesting wine and made note that it was his favorite wine of the tasting.

After we learned about this Provence rosé, there was still the task of pairing it with the Carolina Bleu Marble cheese. Neil found the wine to become a delicate, light, strawberry flavor, while the cheese gained flavors of orange spice with funk and milk. As I swirled the wine to see how it may have changed, I noticed the aroma of a balloon, and a flavor that bounced between tart and flavorful. The cheese seemed to be more tart and tangy. Neil’s notes sound better than mine, how is it that we can pick up such different things?

The first thing we both noticed about the Ca’ De Lion from Piedmont, Italy was the color! How many wines have you come across that were blood red? Neil and I picked up all kinds of aromas with this one including berries, a slight hint of tar/graphite, red licorice, cherries, and hot cinnamon. The flavors were similar to the aromas and it certainly had a lot going on! We found the wine to be tart and crisp with flavors of graphite and cherries. I took another sip a few minutes later and the wine tasted dry. The wine cards called this a red wine-rosé hybrid. I need to find out what that means! After searching a few articles, I guess they were referring strictly to the color of the wine, the skin of the Grignolino grape doesn’t contain a ton of pigment, so the wine is light in both color and body.

Let’s see how it pairs with the cheese! The wine had a similar flavor but the cherries went away and it seemed drier. Neil had the opposite thing happen, he found the cherry flavor to get bigger. I noticed the cheese to get creamier but Neil thought the milk flavor in the cheese went away and it became more like a funky blue cheese!

Vinebox 2 and Carolina Bleu Marble 2

After trying all these wines, I’d like a little more time/exposure to the rosé and the red. There was so much happening with both of them and I need more wine to study than just the sample in the Vinebox. These are definitely wines that I’ll keep my eye out for when we’re wine shopping in the next couple months.

Regarding the cheese, THIS IS A BIG CHEESE! I think it’s even too big to pair with wine. Neil and I certainly found such different things during the pairings too. I did think it would be nice in a salad with strawberries and walnuts, so we made one a few days after our pairing. We were right, what a delicious salad. We had so much cheese leftover that we actually made it two days in a row!

Do you think you’d like to try a Vinebox subscription? Click this link to see how the wine club works. We have it for 3 months so there’s still one left for us to review, and pair with cheese. Stay Tuned!

Summer Salad with Carolina Bleu Marble Cheese

Goat Lady Dairy Farm Dinner, Climax, NC http://wineandcheesefriday.lan/goat-lady-dairy-farm-dinner-climax-nc/ Fri, 22 Jun 2018 18:02:32 +0000 http://wineandcheesefriday.lan/?p=2893 Goat Lady Dairy Farm Dinner 1

Does the idea of a farm fresh dinner get you excited? Would it help to add in that this farm is a goat dairy that makes cheese? If you know me, then you know I was sold on this idea! Neil and I decided to group together our birthday and anniversary celebrations from the Spring to gift ourselves this farm dinner. As some of you know, we have been staying in Durham for the last few months. Durham is a pretty hip place that is a former tobacco town. That means there’s tons of old factories turned into commercial and residential spaces but not much for farmland or country. Once we got the idea to visit a farm for dinner, we had to figure out where to go. Goat Lady Dairy is about an hour and a half west of Durham, but I was sold once I watched their cheesemaking video online, It was settled then, we’d pick the date and make our reservation.

Since we don’t have a car during our time in Durham, we borrowed Neil’s cousin’s car. We chose to go the road less traveled (the longer route) and enjoy some countryside on our way out. Surprisingly though, we ended up driving through the area with all the grocery stores and restaurants. We did find that farmland we wanted for our last few miles though. Goat Lady Dairy is pretty far out there, down a winding road but they do have a sign so just keep your eye out for that.

Porch Snacks at Goat Lady Dairy

Upon arrival, everyone was getting settled into the front porch and hanging out on the lawn. Our first treat of the evening was a porch snack. It was smoked trout with dill and capers on a cucumber. How tasty and gluten free, they were starting off great! After about 30 minutes of relaxing, it was story time.

The former owner, Steve told us all about how Goat Lady Dairy was formed by his sister Ginnee and her two pet goats. She became known around town as the Goat Lady and the name stuck! This property was an abandoned tobacco farm and started out as just a hobby farm. Ginnee would make cheese, kind of just for fun, and, every now and then, share it with the locals. Then about 10 years later Ginnee convinced Steve that he and his family should move down and become part of the local food movement. Well they didn’t call it that back then because they were doing it before the movement actually began.

Farm Tour at Goat Lady Dairy 2

Today, Goat Lady Dairy is owned by Carrie Routh Bradds & Bobby Brads and, as far as we know, is the second largest creamery in the Southeast region. They not only have grown their herd to 300 goats but their cheese is being sold up and down the entire East coast in Whole Foods stores as well as many other places. Their herd is housed offsite at Lindale Organic Dairy and is made up of 3 breeds of goat: Nubian, Saanan and Alpines. Each breed can either be identified by their ears or their color. Nubian goats have long floppy ears. Alpine goats have ears that stand up. Saanan goats are all white. Bobby Bradds told me he’s happy the herd is offsite because there’s less poop to deal with and they can concentrate on the cheesemaking. They do have a few retired goats on the property, which was nice so we could see a few during our tour. And just like Bobby said, as soon as we met one of the goats, it pooped and peed right in front of us 😃 I still gave it a quick pet, despite my childhood fear of goats.

Farm Tour at Goat Lady Dairy

One of my favorite parts of the tour was when we learned the Things You Think You Know about Goats, but are Wrong. We were all city folk after all! Having a bunch of goats in your yard won’t help you mow the lawn, they eat woody food, not grass. No, they don’t eat everything–like cans and boots–but they do put a ton of stuff in their mouth. That’s how they touch things since they have hooves. And yes, they do eat poison ivy but that’s just because they are crazy. It doesn’t hurt them though and some of their immunity to poison ivy may actually be passed to humans by eating their cheese. And have you heard the expression, Someone got your goat!? Well that’s a funny story. Goats love to be around other animals and can actually produce a calming effect on their friends. So if someone frustrates you, you must not have that goat there to help you stay calm, in other words, someone got your goat! One last bit of goat trivia, goats are the most intelligent type of livestock and rank up there as smart as dogs.

Goat Lady Dairy Farm Dinner 3

Now that you know all about the herd and the farm, let’s talk cheese! The cheese course was the beginning of the sit down meal and was plated in a circle like a clock. Before describing each cheese, Bobby told us the location on the fictional clock. First up was the basil and garlic chèvre at 12:00. This is one of their original cheeses that has lots of garlic as well as basil flavor. I really liked the flavor but thought it might not work in a wine pairing. It did however work very well with the strawberry chutney! At 3:00, was the Smoky Mountain Round, and it was pretty smoky. In the 5:00 position was the Snow Camp, a bloomy rind cheese named after the town where the goats live. This cheese is a mix of cow and goats milks and reminded Neil of the 3 milks Robiola by Luigi Guffanti. Lindale, a raw milk cow Gouda, was at 7:00. It’s been aged for at least 6 months and had both a creamy and tart flavor. The final cheese, at 9:00, was their fig and honey chèvre. It had a great flavor! This course was served with a Vinho Verde rosé from Portugal. It was a pretty effervescent wine with a strawberry flavor. And it’s a wine I’ve only heard of, so I was excited that it was included with our meal.

Goat Lady Dairy Farm Dinner 4

The formal dinner began with the soup course. The soup of the day was Ajoblanco Malegueño, a chilled almond soup. This dish had a nutty broth, grapes that were full of flavor and there was even the flavor of the grapes in the broth. It was unlike any soup we’ve had before and it was the standout course for Neil! Next up was a spring greens salad with pine nuts and a very flavorful lemon vinaigrette dressing. Our main course was braised pork shoulder with ginger and scallion sauce served with squash. The pork was very tender and had a sweetness to it. Neil liked the squash, which is unusual for him because he’s not usually a fan of summer squash. Maybe it was because there was also celery in there? Dessert was a peach cobbler. All of us at the table pondered if it had whipped cream on top or some sort of handmade goats milk yogurt? The peaches were fresh and the cake part was really tasty. They even made a special version of it for Neil without the cake. Each dinner at Goat Lady Dairy finishes with a cheese truffle coated in cocoa. Wow was that good!

We both had a cup of coffee with our desserts and hung around for a bit talking to our new friends at the table. The crowd dissipated while we talked North Carolina, food and life. The cheeses were on sale on the way out so I needed to figure out which one we’d take home. Do you have a guess which one we picked? The Snow Camp seemed like a cheese we could definitely pair with wine so we settled up and it was time to get going. And remember that country road we were hoping for on the way in? Well we found it on the way out. Not quite as enjoyable at night but we eventually came to the highway and it was smooth sailing. We enjoyed our ride home filled up with farm fresh goodies and tranquility. Definitely a fun trip out to the farm!

Goat Lady Dairy Farm Dinner 2

Goat Lady Dairy 1

A Behind the Scenes look at a Twitter Chat-WineAndCheeseFriday is featured on #WiningHourChat http://wineandcheesefriday.lan/a-behind-the-scenes-look-at-a-twitter-chat-wineandcheesefriday-is-featured-on-wininghourchat/ Fri, 08 Jun 2018 21:40:42 +0000 http://wineandcheesefriday.lan/?p=2884 Ad for #wininghourchat

During a WiningHourChat in the beginning of the year, a suggestion was made to have a Wine and Cheese Theme on a future Tuesday night. So immediately after the chat ended, I contacted the hostesses to figure out what time of the year would be good for all of us. We decided to hold it on National Cheese Day in June. This got the ideas flowing in my mind. What would we talk about? What wines and cheeses should we taste? What would my role as guest be? The hostesses will tell you that this spurred a bunch of ideas and messages from me in the coming days.

Fast forward to May, the #WiningHourChat was fast approaching and I wanted to be ready and as prepared as possible. I went to the store to figure out which wine and cheeses I would bring to the party, when a bottle of wine that had a “Bad Ass Babe” caught my eye. Not only was the label cool but it had Cabernet Franc as one of the main grapes. It was settled, that was my wine. Next up, which cheeses? I started thinking about what cheese would pair well with this big red and I wasn’t quite sure. As preparation for the rest of the people attending the chat, I created a Pinterest Board) with many wine and cheese pairing suggestions. I figured I should use it for me too so I could see what types of cheeses might work with this wine. Armed with my list of like 6 suggestions, I headed over to Whole Foods. I was pleased to find out that there were a ton of “cheese noses” in the bin. For those of you that don’t know this term, its the tiny left over pieces that remain after the larger wedges are cut to size. Wouldn’t you know it, there were 3 that fit my suggested pairings, so I was armed and ready.

I’m a bit of a type A personality but it really only applies in terms of being prepared. So I had my wine and cheese and it was like two weeks before the big show. A week or 2 before this shopping spree, I was also beginning to gather information on cheese to share that night. I had come up with a handful of questions and sent them over to our hostesses to be pre-approved. Once I got their ok, I meticulously answered all of them and entered them into Twitter to make sure I had the correct number of characters. (Those of you that use Twitter, know what I’m talking about here). There’s certainly a technique to getting that to line up.

So what about the wine and cheese you ask? Well, Neil and I paired them early so I’d be ready with photos and descriptions before the chat. This also helped for advertising the chat. The wine had aromas of red berry, spice, earth and red licorice. It was smooth and dry with a spicy finish. There were big fruit and earthy flavors that made it so drinkable! All these aromas and flavors lasted throughout the week of enjoying this wine.

The cheeses were all kind of ringers, because none of them were super new to us…We began with the Borough Market Cheddar from the UK. We have certainly had cheddar cheese before but this type of cheddar was new for us. It had a great set of aromas including salt, nuts, herbs, veggies, butter and charcoal. The texture was crunchy and dry with flavors of salt, milk, butter and mustard. Neither one of us could believe that it tasted like mustard! Up next we tasted the Cave Aged Gruyere from Switzerland, a cheese we’ve had a few times. This was funky with smoke, salt and sour aromas. The flavor was definitely distinct, I called it garlic mushrooms. It was good, flavorful and the rind added to the mushroom flavor. Try this smooth cheese with a lingering funk! Our final cheese of the three was Pyrenees Brebis, a sheep cheese by Herve Mons in France. We first tasted this cheese at a Cheese Tasting back in SF, man do I miss having access to Cheese Plus! Neil could smell the sheep milk funk in the cheese. It was soft, smooth and oily. The flavors were milky, hay, and a mild funk. It was a pretty delicate sheep’s cheese that I might have guessed was made from cow’s milk. The rind on this cheese is edible too and contributed a vegetable flavor to the cheese. We give all these cheeses a YUM rating but Maria was pleasantly surprised by the Borough Market Cheddar with big notes of mustard.

As you know, we are all about wine and cheese pairing, so of course we paired all of these cheeses with the Intrinsic wine! According to Maria the wine made both the cheddar and gruyere seem drier. Neil felt the cheddar began to taste like yeast or a sweet beer flavor and the gruyere got a lot creamier. The pairing of wine and Pyrenees Brebis was our favorite due to the way the cheese changed. Maria noticed the cheese to get stickier and it lost the funk. Neil said the cheese got more complex and he identified both hay and grass flavors.

We did notice the wine to change a bit from the pairings too. The cheddar cheese turned the wine to a tart cherry for Neil and Maria picked up a lighter wine texture but a very full berry flavor. The funk of the gruyere got transferred to the wine during Maria’s pairing. Neil thought the wine gained a big berry flavor. And for the final pairing with sheep’s cheese, the wine took on a big spice for Neil and a black berry flavor for Maria.

And yes the chat was still a week away. We even made our video intro a few days ahead too so I didn’t have that “I’m so nervous, I’m going to throw up” look on my face.

The night before we came up with our game plan. I knew that I wanted Neil by my side for this because twitter chats can get so hectic. Another way I prepared was to find out if the hostesses knew what time each question would be released. You never know what’s going to happen on twitter! Sometimes the questions never show up on your feed, despite the fact that they were released. So I had Neil there and the times, with appropriate alarms set on my phone. Yup, type A! I was as prepared as I could be!

We still had a bit of the wine left and some cheese, set up between us. The room smelled like wine and cheese, that helped to calm me down a bit. The clock struck 9pm and we were off. Both Neil and I were frantically reading through the twitter feed while I glanced at my notifications. After about 5 minutes, I decided there was no way I could keep up with the notifications. The dynamic worked out really well because Neil would catch the audiences questions before I would and we’d discuss out loud and then he’d answer. Meanwhile I was entering our answers to each question and attempting to keep one eye on the chat as it raced past us. Probably around 9:20pm I was sweating out of control but we persevered. Neil and I both retweeted wine and cheese pairings as an attempt to capture all our info. And with a blink of an eye it was 10pm and the chat was wrapping up.

Curious about what we discussed during the chat? Here’s the list of Q&A:

Q1a How and when did you start pairing wines and cheeses?
A1a I’ve always enjoyed eating cheese but it wasn’t until we started the blog back in ’13 that I found out how cool it was to pair wine & cheese. We got started with pairing by using a lot of the Wine and Cheese Charts.

Q1b What is it about wine and cheese that attracts you?
A1b Well besides the fact that they are both delicious, it’s the reactions that come from the pairings. We’ve found big flavors appear, new flavors come out of left field & sometimes there’s an interesting reaction in our mouth.

Q2a Do you have a favorite wine and cheese pairing?
A2a We’ve done so many Wine&Cheese pairings! Over 100 according to our site. 🤓 Some favorites: Gavi & Morbier, Pandemonium White Blend & Double Cream Brie, Boccalino & Pecorino Ginepro, Pinot Noir & Jasper Hill Harbison

Q2b Which wine and cheese are you pairing tonight? #WIYG?
A2b We are pairing a WA blend with “Bad Ass Babe” label. And there’s Cab Franc in it! Since we’re celebrating #NationalCheeseDay, we tasted 3 🧀s: Cheddar, Gruyere & Pyrenees Brebis #Overachievers Watch for Friday’s entry about this.

Q3. Maria @winecheesefri, can you tell us a few of your favorite cheese facts?

CheeseFact 1: A little about 🐐 cheese. Goat cheese is white because when goats digest the chlorophyll in the grass, all the color is removed. Milk production of goats, unlike cow’s, is only from mid-March through October.

CheeseFact 2: Cheese was a peasant food at first. Rich people could kill the cow for the meat but you could get more food out of a cow if you milked it! Cheese was used as a way to preserve the milk before it went bad.

CheeseFact 3: Blue cheese can be made from any type of milk! It becomes a “blue cheese” once it’s been injected with strains of pennicillum mold and then “needled”. Want to learn more about blues?

Q3b How do you choose which wines and cheeses to pair on WineAndCheeseFriday?
A3 Once we got a little experience, we knew to pair funk & funk, butter & butter, sweet wine & blue cheese, other times both are from the same location/geography, but many times both are random.

Q4a When pairing wine and cheese, do you notice any new flavors as a result? What is your experience @winecheesefri?
A4a That’s our favorite part of wine and cheese pairings! The Pandemonium White Blend & Double Cream Brie (mentioned above) had a new flavor of nuts appear during the pairing!

A4b Our favorite pairing from tonights 🍷🧀 was with the Pyrenees Brebis. Maria noticed the cheese to get stickier and it lost the funk. Neil said the cheese got more complex and he identified both hay and grass flavors.

Q5. #WiningHourChat Do you have a suggestion for a wine and cheese pairing that Maria should feature on WineAndCheeseFriday?

What an intense hour of chatting about Wine And Cheese! We had a great time and it seemed like everyone else did too. I had such a collection of notifications by the end of the night, and the next day, and the day after that. Think we might finally be reaching the end of them now. We also took the time to go back through the entire chat to make sure we saw everything that flew at warped speed past us that night. Thanks to everyone who was able to attend. We appreciate all your support!

If you have a twitter account and want to see even more details of this chat look for #WiningHourChat. And to those of you wondering, yeah, we’ll probably do another chat with wine and cheese again soon.

Intrinsic Red Blend and Borough Market Cheddar, Cave Aged Gruyere and Pyrenees Brebis

Chardon-May, Our Favorite Chardonnay http://wineandcheesefriday.lan/chardon-may-our-favorite-chardonnay/ Fri, 01 Jun 2018 19:39:02 +0000 http://wineandcheesefriday.lan/?p=2881 Chardon-May, Our Favorite Chardonnay

When we came up with the idea for Chardon-May, I wanted to find wines from less common growing areas than most people are familiar with for Chardonnay. We have enjoyed Chardonnay on many occasions and it is a wine that can range in flavor quite a bit. I was also curious how many of them would be lighter and fruitier than the heavily oaked versions we knew from California.

We’ll be focusing on the wines for this entry but all of these wines were paired with some delicious cheeses too. Click the links below for the cheese tasting and pairing notes.

North Carolina
Biltmore Chardonnay 2016
Maria: fruit & butter aromas; creme brûlée, smooth & dry, some toast & oak flavors
Neil: floral, fruit & butter aromas; fruit, butter, vanilla
Versatile wine

Charles Smith-Eve 2014
Maria: fruit & floral aromas; tart, sweet & spice flavors
Neil: fruit & floral aromas; oaky, round, fruit flavors
Light Chardonnay

Woodlands 2014
Maria: caramel & butter aromas; tart, fruit flavors with oak finish
Neil: butter, fruit & grassy aromas; fruit & butter flavors
Buttery & tart Chardonnay
Neil’s favorite

Finca Sophenia 2015
Maria: fruit aromas; spice & fruit flavors with butter finish
Neil: butter & fruit
Easy to drink Chardonnay
Maria’s favorite

After trying these different regions for Chardonnay we were pretty surprised how many of them still did have an oak influence. We have heard that many wineries make Chardonnays the way that people expect them to be so maybe all these places think the population wants a Chardonnay with oak? Let us know on social media which one would be your favorite from our tasting notes. Thanks for reading our Chardon-May series and check WineAndCheeseFriday again soon to see our next wines and cheeses.

Languedoc Day 2018 http://wineandcheesefriday.lan/languedoc-day-2018/ Sat, 26 May 2018 00:57:59 +0000 http://wineandcheesefriday.lan/?p=2861 languedocmap

During a set of recent Instagram posts, I found out that Neil and I have tried quite a few Languedoc wines. This came as a bit to a surprise to me. We know that we always enjoy trying new wines but who knew that we’d been gravitating to a specific French wine region? I’d say part of the reason we were unaware of these wines all carrying a similar trait is because Old World wines are labeled pretty differently than New World wines.

Do you drink wine from France often? French wines are typically just labeled with the name of the producers “Chateau or Domaine” something, which makes it difficult to decipher. Not to mention how many parts of France grow grapes, how could we know all those town names, nevermind where they are located. Need a little help with French wine geography? Here’s a map with many of the regions listed:

The Languedoc region* used to produce cheap jug wines but they are now becoming known as a place with great “value wines.” This is probably the other reason we’ve been drawn to this area, the price. We can try French wines at an affordable price. Sounds like a good reason to learn more about this area!

Domaine LaFage Nicolas Grenache Noir
Domaine LaFage Nicolas Grenache Noir
Côtes Catalanes
#redwine #grenache #grenachenoir
We chose this Grenache Noir because it was one of the first pure varietal Grenache wines we’d seen in a store. We were familiar with this grape from GSM blends I’d had in California.

Chateau d' Oupia Minervois wine 1
Château d’Oupia
#redwine #carignan #grenache #syrah
We came across this wine because of the recommendation of @wine101hamden. He said “Try this, it’s different.” Always happy to try a new wine, we happily accepted the challenge.

Le Vin de Merde
Le Vin de Merde
#redwine #grenache #syrah
We visited France in 2014 and of course we tried some wine while we were there! We weren’t able to visit any vineyards but there was still wine to enjoy. French wine in France, pretty amazing!

Nicholas Cabernet Sauvignon
Maison Nicolas Cabernet Sauvignon
Vin de Pays d’Oc
#redwine #cabernetsauvignon
We tried these French wines during a French Cheese tasting. The event was more focused on the cheeses than the wines but still more exposure for us to French wines. Once I researched the Cab I found out it was from the Languedoc region.

Les Jamelles Pinot Noir

Les Jamelles Pinot Noir
Vin de Pays d’Oc
#redwine #pinotnoir
Neil was in withdrawal of Old World wines after drinking South American wines for so long. How cool to find out that this classification of French wines is one of the affordable styles of French wine. They draw from a large region on the Southern coast of France and usually put the grape on the label. How different from so many other French wines!

Ermitage du Pic Saint Loup “Cuvée Sainte Agnès"
Ermitage du Pic Saint Loup “Cuvée Sainte Agnès”
Pic Saint Loup
#redwine #syrah #grenache #mourvedre
We chose this wine during our visit to Kermit Lynch wines in Berkeley, CA. The salesperson taught us so much about the Languedoc region that day and how it’s just starting to bounce back from the days of bulk wines. The conversation was sparked because it was almost Languedoc Day in 2016. We thought this was our first and only time tasting Languedoc wine, who knew we’d been drinking wines from this region throughout our entries with WineAndCheeseFriday.

Blanc de Demoiselles
Blanc de Demoiselles
#whitewine #Grenache Blanc #Marsanne #Macabeo
This wine was sent to us as part of our first VineBox shipment. Since they choose the wines, we didn’t pick this one ourselves but how cool that it’s also from the Languedoc region. And our first white wine to taste from this area.

Domaine La Bouysse Carignan

Domaine La Bouysse Carignan
#redwine #carignan
We found this wine on a recent visit to Wine Authorities. Not only did the tasting notes sound good but we saw the wine was from Languedoc. We figured we should probably pick up a bottle in order to celebrate the upcoming Languedoc Day. Then we saw in their newsletter that the upcoming Languedoc tasting would feature this specific wine, guess we made a good choice for Languedoc Day!

After researching all these wines, I figured out another reason we like this region of France, the grapes! I really like Grenache and Neil really likes Syrah. Well there you go, looks like we’ll be continuing our journey through the Languedoc region of France!

*Thanks to for the map of the Languedoc wine regions!

Chardon-May, Finca Sophenia Chardonnay and Campo de Montalban http://wineandcheesefriday.lan/chardon-may-finca-sophenia-chardonnay-and-campo-de-montalban/ Fri, 25 May 2018 17:30:59 +0000 http://wineandcheesefriday.lan/?p=2874 Chardon-May, Finca Sophenia Chardonnay and Campo de Montalban

This Chardon-May entry features a Chardonnay from Argentina and a cheese from Spain. We found this wine, as well as the Australian Chardonnay from our last entry at Wine Authorities. Also similar to the previous entry, the cheese is from Whole Foods. I love cheese and they have such a terrific selection of cheeses from around the world there! In order to celebrate WineAndCheeseFriday, we brought in guest tasters, Jo and Francis, our landlords in Durham, NC. They both enjoy wine and figured they’d give wine and cheese pairing with us a try. I didn’t realize Jo is usually an AnythingButChardonnay kind of girl when we invited them up so we’ll see how it goes.

After pouring their wine, I let them know it was a Chardonnay as part of our Chardon-May series and this is when I found out that Jo doesn’t usually like Chardonnay. She said it’s because she’s come across a lot of sweeter Chardonnays and that’s not her thing. We gave Jo and Francis a crash course in wine tasting before we got started: suggesting that they swirl their wines in order to release the aromas, then after sniffing their wine, take a small sip to try to figure out the wine flavors. And in an attempt to not scare them away, I told them it’s ok if they tell me “it smells or tastes like wine.”

Jo got a bit nervous when she described the wine as having “nice fumes” but she was really into the wine tasting. She said that some of the wines she’s tasted didn’t have much of an aroma but she liked that this one did. Francis thought this wine reminded him of Retsina, a greek wine they had tried before.* Neil picked up flavors of butter, a little citrus and melon. Jo said that she noticed more specifically the green rind of the melon. When I swirled the wine to find aromas, I considered this a light wine that smelled like fruit. Jo also picked up a bit of citrus. I identified flavors of spice, fruit and a buttery flavor. I thought it was really good and we got so caught up enjoying the wine, we totally forgot to take a picture of the bottle with wine in it. That’s definitely a sign that we liked it, even Jo who was pleasantly surprised by this Chardonnay.

At first, we weren’t sure what type of cheese to pair with this South American wine. Then when we were at Whole Foods, we were told that the Campo de Montalban was made of cow, goat and sheep’s milk and we were sold. It’s not all that often that you find a cheese made from 3 milks. We also learned that this cheese is aged similar to Manchego, in a basket. Can you see the similar ridges on the rind? I know, I forgot to take a picture of the whole wedge of cheese, too. Guess I was really excited about sharing wine and cheese with new friends.

Now onto the cheese tasting. We’ve mentioned before that when tasting a hard cheese, it’s important to taste a thin slice of cheese in order to fully experience the flavors. That must be why I didn’t take the photo because I was really concentrating on getting those perfect slices to showcase our cheese. Another important part of cheese tasting is making sure the cheese is at room temperature. Jo observed that although we were sitting outside in 80 degree temperatures, the cheese wasn’t too soft. And Francis said it had a good texture and feel when we ate it.

I picked up salt and butter aromas and Neil thought it was just the right amount of salt. Jo said mmm, and thought it was pretty mild and not sharp. She also made note that although it was a goat milk cheese it didn’t have that goat funk when you exhale. I think Jo might have been a wine and cheese expert in disguise. She described the flavor of the cheese to be pleasantly sour. I thought it was tangy and funky with milk flavors. Just before we finished up with our cheese tasting notes, Jo also picked up an aroma of walnuts. I loved that there was lots of flavor and Francis said it was “Great!”. I’d say we all concur.

Before we paired the wine and cheese, we let them know that our goal in pairings is to see if any new flavors appear or if the wine or cheese really change or stand out. I noticed the cheese lost its flavor for the pairing and the wine changed to be fruity with a spicy finish. Francis noticed the opposite of me, he thought the cheese became more intense. Neil and Jo found other things happening. Neil thought the pairing highlighted the best parts of the wine and the cheese but no new flavors appeared. Jo was surprised by the fact that some of the flavors that had dissipated in the wine seemed to come back once she paired the chardonnay with the cheese. She thought it was pretty cool that the wine and cheese got renewed by pairing them! Another thing that she never realized was that in a crowd of people, everyone would have such different experiences. Isn’t pairing wine and cheese awesome!

In the photo you will also see that we had salami, almonds and olives on our cheese board. These are some of my favorite things to have alongside wine and cheese. We didn’t really pair any of these things specifically with the wine or cheese, but Jo did suggest that the cheese paired nicely with the almonds and I’d agree. These items helped us have a little more to munch on while eating a whole wedge of cheese and drinking a bottle of wine. What a fun night of pairing wine and cheese with new friends. Check back next week to find out which one of the Chardon-May pairings was our favorite!

*I’d never heard of Retsina, so I decided to hit the web. And as is par for the course with my wine research, Wine Folly had an article to teach me all about it. She’s such a terrific resource!

Chardon-May, Woodlands Chardonnay and New Zealand Cheddar http://wineandcheesefriday.lan/chardon-may-woodlands-chardonnay-and-new-zealand-cheddar/ Fri, 18 May 2018 14:38:14 +0000 http://wineandcheesefriday.lan/?p=2868 Chardon-May, Woodlands Chardonnay and New Zealand Cheddar

Where do Chardonnay grapes grow? Have you ever looked into it? The more popular areas are California and France, but as you know we like to explore outside the box. As we went through our previous Chardonnay entries we were really surprised to find out that we’ve mainly tasted California chardonnay. We’re taking the opportunity with Chardon-May to try some of those other regions.

In order to find some wines from different places, we headed over to the Wine Authorities wine shop here in Durham. The salesperson explained to us that Chardonnay is pretty much planted all over the world because it’s a grape that people know. He took me around the shop and showed me a handful of those less common areas for Chardonnay. Despite the fact that Chardonnay can grow all over the place, it did seem quite a challenge to find the less popular examples. After all, why sell those strange ones? I’m probably one of the few people who enjoy those out of ordinary wines. Since we are always planning which cheese we’ll pair with our wines we decided to get a Chardonnay from Australia. We’d already found a New Zealand cheese that we thought could work for the pairing.

The aromas of the wine told me it was influenced by oak: caramel and butter, with no fruit that I could tell. Neil picked up butter, melon and grass aromas. Neil found the flavors to be similar to the aromas, identifying melon and citrus with butter. I tasted flavors that were tart and citrus with an oak finish. This wine tasted very different than it smelled and I thought it was interesting that it was both buttery and tart.

This New Zealand Cheddar was the Cheese of the Month at Whole Foods. In order to continue exploring worldwide food and wine, I knew I’d like to try this cheese. I don’t think I’d ever even considered cheeses in that part of the world. What a perfect chance to try wines and cheeses from “down under”.

During our cheese tasting, Neil had a fun Southern Hemisphere realization. He noticed hay aromas and figured out that although it is Springtime here in the US, it’s fall in New Zealand. Why is this relevant you ask? Well in the spring, cows eat grass and that aroma comes out in the cheese. Cheeses made in the fall, taste or smell like hay. Now you know more cheese trivia, You’re Welcome!

In addition to the hay aroma, he also picked up salt and a little funk. I agreed with all those aromas and added in “It smells like cheese!” We can all think of that token cheese smell. When we tasted the cheese, I found funk, milk, salt, and a light tanginess. There was also a fleeting flavor of honeydew melon, maybe Neil put that flavor in my head from the wine? This cheese coated my tongue and I looked forward to tasting it in a sandwich! Neil picked up a hearty cows’ milk flavor, salt, and hay. We both wanted to just sit there and keep eating the cheese.

We were doing our wine tasting outside and Neil found the temperature to influence the wine’s flavors. The wine tasted like creme brûlée when it was a little warm and more citrus and butter when it was cold. Then as his wine warmed up again there was more caramel. Finally, it was caramel up front and a citrus finish. The combination of Chardonnay and Cheddar made the cheese taste a lot like cream. As I paired the wine and cheese, the citrus in the wine really kicked up. I could identify lemon, lime and grapefruit flavors and there was definitely wine acidity. This wine acidity caused my tongue to get dried out and made the cheese very milky.

Neil enjoyed the flavors of the wine being dependent on the temperature. He found this combination to be a good pairing but also the wine and cheese were good individually. I didn’t think the wine or cheese really changed that much aside from the increase in citrus. I’d prefer the cheese on it’s own. Chardonnay Day is coming up on Thursday, we hope you’re getting some ideas on what you might purchase to celebrate!

Chardon-May, Eve Chardonnay and Rocket’s Robiola http://wineandcheesefriday.lan/chardon-may-eve-chardonnay-and-rockets-robiola/ Fri, 11 May 2018 13:21:31 +0000 http://wineandcheesefriday.lan/?p=2853 Chardon-May, Eve Chardonnay and Rocket's Robiola 1

This next Chardon-May entry features the Eve Chardonnay from Charles Smith Wines. Charles Smith Wines is a brand from Washington that features funky black and white label designs. We’ve tried a handful of their wines but this will be our first time with their Chardonnay. Come to think of it, this might be our first time trying a Washington Chardonnay too.* The cheese we’ll be tasting for this entry is from North Carolina, and yup, you guessed it, it’s another one from the Durham Farmer’s Market. We really lucked out with the selection of cheeses available there. We hope you enjoy the second Chardon-May pairing of Eve Chardonnay and Rocket’s Robiola.

Our task for Chardon-May is to try a variety of Chardonnays from all over the world. Let’s see how this Washington Chardonnay differs from the others we’ve tasted. The first thing I noticed, while looking for aromas, was all the fruit coming out of the glass. There was apple, pear and perfume aromas. Neil also identified light floral scents and an apple aroma. As I tasted the wine, it was tart, then sweet with apple and spice. Neil described it as oaky and round with apple and pear. He found this to be a light Chardonnay. I enjoyed sitting and sipping this Chardonnay on it’s own. As a point of comparison to our other wines this month, I wanted to make note that this Chardonnay didn’t have any butter.

Boxcarr Handmade Cheese at Durham Farmer's Market

We already told you this cheese is from the Durham Farmer’s Market but here’s a little more information. Boxcarr Handmade Cheese, produces this cheese and we had a great time talking to Austin when we purchased it. He said the Rocket’s Robiola is always one of their popular cheeses, so popular that some people end up eating it before it’s really aged enough to show the different layers in the cheese. In order to get the full experience of this cheese, he suggested we wait 3 weeks before tasting this cheese. You can imagine how much of a challenge that was every time we opened the fridge. Our three weeks were finally up and we were ready to taste it on our first night in our new apartment.

Rocket's Robiola by Boxcarr Handmade Cheese

As Neil sniffed the cheese, he picked up a good little funk aroma, as well as, milk and ash. In addition to those aromas, I also smelled butter. The texture of the cheese was soft and creamy. We noticed flavors of ash, milk, a little funk, and not a lot of salt. This cheese tasted really fresh and reminded me of a chèvre but it’s made of cow’s milk not goat’s milk. We both really liked this cheese and I declared it my favorite North Carolina cheese so far. A few days later I had it straight from the fridge, without letting it warm up, and there was still a freshness and funk, yum!

During the pairing of Eve Chardonnay and Rocket’s Robiola, the wine smelled more like perfume and there was more spice in the flavor but still apple too. I could smell salt in the cheese and it tasted more milky. I think the cheese was more flavorful in the pairing. Neil identified spice in the wine and found it to become more tart. The cheese seemed creamier, like a goat cheese, and it was tangier. Then when he tasted the wine again, there was a spike of funky milk flavor. He preferred keeping the wine and cheese separate instead of pairing them.

When I tried the wine again the next day, the flavors seemed less noticeable and it didn’t really pair well with dinner. I really liked the spice on the first night and I wished it had carried through. I could also feel the 13.5% alcohol, which was pretty unexpected. Then I tried it again later in the week, and it tasted better but I had it without food that time. I guess it’s a better wine to have by itself. Check back next Friday as Chardonnay-May continues!

*Nope, it’s the second Washington Chardonnay we’ve tried:

Chardon-May, Eve Chardonnay and Rocket's Robiola 2

Chardon-May, Biltmore Chardonnay and Carolina Moon http://wineandcheesefriday.lan/chardon-may-biltmore-chardonnay-and-carolina-moon/ Fri, 04 May 2018 18:13:07 +0000 http://wineandcheesefriday.lan/?p=2846 Chardon-May, Biltmore Chardonnay and Carolina Moon

How long have you been reading WineAndCheeseFriday? Did you ever read our Pinot-Vember series of entries? Today we begin Chardon-May which will continue throughout the entire month of May. Not only will this be part of another fun set of entries but they just happen to fall within the same month as Chardonnay Day (May 24). Are you ready to learn about Chardonnay from some of the lesser known regions of the world? We’ll begin Chardon-May with the pairing of Biltmore Chardonnay and Carolina Moon, both from North Carolina. Be sure to keep checking back this month for more Chardonnay pairings.

Biltmore Estate Chardonnay

We’ve been in North Carolina for about a month now and although we’ve heard of Biltmore Estate, we didn’t realize it was nearby. Then when we were on the search for bottles of Chardonnay to be part of Chardon-May, we came across the Biltmore wine. Have you heard about the famous Cornelius Vanderbilt who made his millions in the railroad and shipping industries? Well, his grandson decided to build a country home out in Asheville, NC and that’s the site of the present day (Biltmore) winery.

Let’s start tasting the wine now. As we swirled it, I picked up aromas of butter, apple, a slight sweetness and another fruit that seemed like white grape. Neil noticed floral aromas as well as lemon butter. I found the wine to be smooth and it tasted like creme brûlée. There was a bit of acid too and it was slightly dry. I wondered if this dryness was from the use of American oak? Neil thought the flavor was “a delightfully light, green apple flavor” with butter and vanilla.

Chapel Hill Creamery at Durham Farmer's Market

This cheese is made by Chapel Hill Creamery, They offer multiple cheeses but we thought this soft-ripened cheese would be a good match for our Chardon-May pairings. We picked up the Carolina Moon cheese when we visited the Durham Farmer’s Market. We are so fortunate that there are multiple local cheese vendors there. We look forward to trying them all!

Neil noticed this cheese to have aromas of milk, funk, grass and salt. I thought the aromas were pungent, barnyard, milk and I kept smelling the rind. The cheese had a smooth and creamy texture. My initial tasting notes were brine, hay and a saline that I felt in my nose. There was definitely a lot of flavor coming off that rind, I thought it might have been thick so it really influenced the flavor. Neil found the flavors of grass, a bit of salt and that the rind seemed like brine. I felt that you needed to wait a bit for the flavor to really develop. Then as i ate more, the brie flavor seemed to change to a bit of a cheddar flavor. When I tried it without the rind, the flavor was buttery. Neil enjoyed eating just the cheese by itself.

We both found the butter to be accelerated in this pairing. The wine definitely smelled like butter to me and Neil tasted the butter along with the creme brulee flavor. I noticed the cheese made the flavor of toast or oak come out with the wine. The cheese had more of a salty funky aroma and the flavor kicked in. Neil disagreed, he thought the cheese lost most of it’s funk but the flavor of the cheese was transferred to the wine. He really liked the pairing.

Although I noticed the flavor of toast and oak popping up a few times, this was a really good, smooth, creme brûlée type of Chardonnay. Neil called this a versatile wine since we are able to enjoy it multiple nights with dinner too. He also felt it was different on its own and when paired. How fun that this is a NC wine that we just happened to find since we were here. Where do you think our next Chardonnay will be from? You’ll just have to check back next week to find out!