Last night we hosted a sold out cheese and wine pairing at The Italian Centre Shop West in Edmonton! What a great night! The fabulous Store Manager Gino selected 6 of his favourite cheeses, and I was then challenged to select 6 wines to go with them. Take a look at what we did. Everything tasted yummy, people were fascinated with the way the cheeses and wines interacted and the favourite of the night? The Cambozola Cheese on a slice of baguette and a clove of roasted garlic with a beautiful California Chardonnay – Mer Soleil Reserve! Buy these great cheeses and more from Italian Centre Shop and the wines from Aligra Wine & Spirits at West Edmonton Mall. Another great pairing!
Here’s what we tasted –
1 Cave Aged Gruyere $44.98 per kg
Gruyere, the Swiss cow’s-milk cheese. This is the quintessential Swiss cheese – sweet, nutty and rustic. This cave-aged version, typically has a stronger flavour. It is pleasingly light and creamy on the tongue. Gruyère melts well, so you’ll find it in a range of dishes, like gratins, quiches and soups. Gruyère is often the star cheese in fondue. No matter how you prepare it, though, enjoy Gruyère with a light white wine such as Riesling or a sparkling apple cider.
WINE –Balthasar Ress Hattenheimer Schutzenhaus Riesling 2012 $21.99 This perennial star offers sumptuous peach fruit balanced by fresh citrus notes. A touch of residual sugar enhances the fruit, while the finish is dry. The combination of light body and intense flavour makes it wonderfully refreshing.
2 Piave Vecchio (or Piave Stravecchio) $32.98 per kg An Italian cow’s milk cheese named after a river by the same name. It is DOP protected and the only authentic Piave Vecchio is produced in the Dolomites area of Belluno province of Veneto. The vecchio or matured variety of Piave is offered beyond 180 days of aging and comes with a blue label. It is a flaky hard, grainy cheese with a dense texture and no holes. Intense and sweet with a tropical fruity flavour underlined by an almondy bitterness. The hard pate of the cheese is light golden in colour while the rind is smooth, even ochre colour. All Piave’s are aged in temperature and humidity controlled cellars where they are regularly turned, brushed and scraped. Piave Vecchio tastes great when grated on salads or eaten right off the wheel.
WINE – Errazuriz Wild Ferment Pinot Noir $26.99 Fragrant on the nose, this 2010 Errazuriz “Wild Ferment” Pinot Noir offers up aromas of musky red cherries, leather and a very subtle clove spice. On the palate, it is dry and medium bodied. Supple tannins and well integrated acidity allow the just ripe red cherry and raspberry flavours to glide across the tongue before a darker spice derived from oak maturation and a note of tobacco prevails into the finish. Fairly long, this 2010 Errazuriz “Wild Ferment” Pinot Noir is a characterful Chilean Pinot Noir.
3 Drunken Goat Cheese $44.98 per kg
Both name and flavour, Drunken Goat carries with it a grape-heavy fruitiness. From the pasteurized milk of Murciana goats comes “Murcia al Vino,” made in the town of Jumilla in Murcia, Spain. Drunken Goat wheels are soaked for two to three days in “doble pasta,” or “double paste” wine, thus the “vino” portion of its name. Doble Pasta wine is a richer, heavier wine, due in part to the fact that it’s made by fermenting the wine twice. The cheese is then aged for two and a half months, and retains a really pleasant semi-soft texture, and a lingering creaminess.
WINE – Rio Madre Red Rioja 2012 $17.99 This plump red wine delivers a mouthful of rich plum, black currant and chocolate flavors, ripe and sweet. The plush texture is supported by chewy tannins and a bright streak of acidity. Drink now through 2018.
4 Manchego $44.98 per kg
Spain’s most famous cheese. Produced in La Mancha in Central Spain, true Manchego is made from 100% sheep’s milk. The abundance of wild herbs on Central Spain’s grazing lands gives Manchego a special taste and aroma. Its flavour is zesty and exuberant while its texture is firm but not dry. Manchego can be recognized by the zigzag pattern etched into its rind. This is created by the rippled surface of the press used in the manufacture of the cheese. Underneath the inedible rind, the interior is ivory coloured with few small holes. Taste Manchego for the first time and you will be surprised at how long the wonderful flavour lingers on your palate. It is an experience you will be drawn back to again and again.
WINE – Anciano Tempranillo $17.99 The Tempranillo grapes were hand-picked from 25 year old vines in stony Valdepeñas vineyards. The soil is clayey-lime and the climate continental – cold winters and hot, dry summers. The growers take care to harvest to achieve optimum ripeness while maintaining good acidity. Fermentation is at controlled temperatures (20-23 degrees Celsius) for 15-17 days in stainless steel tanks. The wine was then matured in French and American oak barriques for a minimum of 24 months and released 10 years following vintage. This wine is dark ruby shading to brick red, on the nose spicy notes of leather and vanilla. In the mouth, fruit compote and licorice with a long and velvety finish. A wine that over delivers for the price.
5 Moliterno with Truffles $59.98 per kg From the Italian island of Sardinia comes this raw sheep’s milk cheese with black truffles. Unlike most truffled cheeses, the truffle paste is infused after Moliterno has been aged so that the cheese develops its own character before the truffles are injected. Though the truffles are only visible in the “veins,” the truffle flavor permeates throughout the entire paste of this amazing cheese. During the aging process, oil and vinegar are applied to the cheese’s rind to prevent weight loss. Once cut, the dark paste oozes out of the crevices of the cheese like trickles of water from a craggy cliff. Both delicious and intriguing visually, this cheese is a show-stopper. Enjoy this pecorino with a big, earthy Italian red with enough muscle to stand up to the truffles.
WINE – Batisiolo Barolo $31.99 From the Nebbiolo Grape grown in Northern Italy, this wine is a Garnet red colour; plum and cherry aromas and flavours with hints of violets, tar, licorice, earth and spice; dry, medium to full bodied, excellent balance of fruit and tannins with a long, complex finish.
6 Cambozola $49.98 per kg Cambozola is a triple cream, brie-style blue cheese made from pasteurized cow’s milk in the German region of Allgäu. The cheese, invented in 1900s, is still made in Germany by Kaserei Champignon since 1970s. In English speaking countries, it is often symbolized as blue brie. It is injected with the same blue Penicillium roqueforti mold used to make Gorgonzola, Roquefort, and Stilton. However, it is neither pungent like Stilton, nor crumbly like Roquefort. A cross between Camembert and Gorgonzola, it is creamy, moist and rich like a Camembert with the sharpness of Gorgonzola. A soft-ripened cheese, the insides reveal pockets of blue veining and a unique exterior of grey mold. Its savory, nutty flavor with undertones of sweetness enhance the wonderful characteristics of the cheese.
WINE – Mer Soleil Reserve Chardonnay 2012 $36.99 From the Santa Lucia Highlands in California, golden-hued in color, the wine opens with opulent aromas of peach, apple, Meyer lemon and baking spices. The palate is an inviting medley of peach and Anjou pear; layered with tropical notes of pineapple and banana. The vibrant acidity is well balanced by warm butterscotch and subtle coconut notes that seamlessly meld together to create a luscious, mouth-filling richness. It is medium to full-bodied with a refreshing burst of minerality and well-integrated oak characteristics that offer a round, lengthy finish.
Cheeses generously provided by Italian Centre and selected by Gino. Wines selected by Alison Phillips, Aligra Wine & Spirits. Thank you to David Herman & Sons, Phillipe Dandurand Wines, Christopher Stewart Fine Wines, Kirkwood-Diamond, Charton Hobbs, and Renaissance Wines for their contributions.