Cloth-Bound Cheddar and Huet Vouvray

Edward Behr wrote about cloth-bound Vermont Cheddar cheese in issue number 75 of The Art of Eating, his outstanding quarterly journal on food and wine. I've been wanting to try this cheese since reading the article. Good cheddar - forget the blocky orange food-product that passes for cheddar in supermarkets, good cheddar is world class cheese. And Behr says that this particular cheddar, Cabot Creamery's Vermont Cloth-Bound Cheddar is "the world's best cheddar." Hard to be more definitive than that. Edward Behr does not use that kind of language often. More on this cheese, all quotes are from the Edward Behr article:

Very little is made --"Cabot makes just 50 wheels of the cloth-bound cheddar every two months..."

Almost no one ages cheddar in cloth anymore, but it makes the finest cheddars --"The best English Cheddar is aged merely in cloth, the same cloth that lines the molds and prevents loss of curd during pressing. This traditional 'bandage,' left in place, keeps the new cheese from sagging outward and provides a barrier against flies, once an important consideration."

It requires skill in the cheese cellar and it is time consuming and expensive -- "For the cheese producer, the great advantage to vacuum-sealing in plastic is that it eliminates all the turning, rubbing, and brushing of traditional aging."

Cloth-bound cheddar loses water to evaporation, about 12% of its weight. The concentration, the breathability of the cloth, and the surface molds on the cheese produce complex flavors -- "We made the same cheese in a vacuum-seal..., and compared the two. You're just not getting the same intensity of flavor."
The cloth is still visible at the corner of the cheese. The sides are over-run with mold.

It is not easy to find this cheese. 25 wheels per month are distributed to specialty shops around the country. Imagine my surprise when I saw it at my food coop. I asked to make sure, and it is indeed the cheese I hoped for.

Is there a classic wine pairing for Cheddar cheese? Behr, strangely, doesn't offer any advice in the article. My gut instinct was Oloroso Sherry or Port, something fortified. I checked around the Internet (information super-highway, for those who are unfamiliar) and found nothing definitive. I was on my own, and with no Oloroso or Port in the house. I honestly could not think of a red wine that I wanted to drink with this cheese. I decided on an off-dry white when I read this in the Behr article:
This cheese's outstanding appeal, apparent in some wheels more than others is a powerful caramel sweetness, to the point that it overtakes other flavors...Where does so much caramel come from...a special starter culture: 90% of the flavor of a piece of cheese comes from the milk, unless you've added something to change the flavor, which in this case we have.
And let me use that quote as a springboard - I did not like this cheese. And it wasn't a borderline, on the fence situation. Plain and simple - I didn't like it. I didn't like the caramel flavor - it didn't taste like cheddar. I know, after all that build-up! Edward Behr is a master of the edible and potable, but I disagree on this one point. It wasn't just me, either. My friend who tasted it was not impressed, and BrooklynLady tried it on another evening with no fanfare whatsoever, made a face and said "This doesn't taste like cheese." And she's right, it doesn't. It tastes like caramel and weird bitter vegetables masquerading as cheese. Why did they have to add the fancy starter to alter the milk's flavor? What would this have tasted like with a neutral starter? Did I get a chunk from a poor wheel?

Anyway...the 2002 Domaine Huet Vouvray Le Mont Demi-Sec, about $32 on release, Robert Chadderdon Selections, was so awesome that the cheese ceased to matter. I chose it because I thought it would have the acidity to stand up to a rich cheddar, and also might compliment the sweet flavors of the cheese. Domaine Huet is, with Philippe Foreau, the top of the top in Vouvray, and this wine was a great example of why this is true. Although it clearly will live forever, it is in a beautiful place right now, full of rich aromas and flavors, and cracking acidity. The nose is the essence of Vouvray, with beautiful orchard fruit and a woolly, waxy undertone. After about an hour there are clear chamomile notes too. This is a powerful wine that crackles with energy in the mouth, but it is also graceful and elegant, very well balanced. It's as close to a perfect glass as I've had from this part of the world, and my attempts to describe it just seem silly compared to the experience of smelling and drinking it.

What is the classic wine to pair with cheddar, anyway? Was I right - Oloroso?

FloydFest Beer Garden

One of the best features of FloydFest is that they provide a Beer Garden for patrons who would like to indulge while listening to music. Alcohol policy varies by festival with some banning all alcohol, whereas others provide alcohol throughout the general festival grounds. FloydFest strikes a balance by providing the aforementioned beer garden with its own stage and for the first time, a beer tent adjacent to the main stage. They also promote local producers of beer and wine - particularly the two neighboring wineries: Chateau Morrisette and Villa Appalaccia Winery. Chateau Morrisette offers most of their sweet portfolio at the festival to fullfil the tastes of the attendees with their sangria easily being the most popular drink. Villa Appalaccia's wines are drier - but very drinkable during the day in the Italian tradition in which they are based.

As for beer, Charlottesville's Starr Hill Brewing is a constant at major festivals and we've always liked their Wheat, Pale Ale and Amber Ale. There were two new breweries this year, Radford's The River Company Restaurant and Brewery and Winston-Salem's Foothills Brewing. For only being open a few months, The River Company Restaurant and Brewery, makes a good hefeweisen while I liked Foothills Brewing's Pilsner and Pale Ale. Ironically, we cared the least for the most popular brewery, Magic Hat Brewing Company. The red colored summer ale was boring, not even refreshing, and the other beer I sampled was so indescript I can't remember it.

Now if you liked the wine at the event, the tasting rooms for both the winery's were open throughout the festival. In addition, these wineries share a tasting facility in downtown Floyd with two other local producers: Blacksnake Meadery and Foggy Ridge Cider. We brought enough home to keep us stocked until our next visit to Floyd.

Reminder! WBW #60 in 10 Days!

wbwlogoFor the 5th Birthday of Wine Blogging Wednesday I have asked everyone to pick a bottle of Zin, pair it with some BBQ and tell me about it!  On my last go around hosting I had 54 wine blog folks participate-let’s blow that out of the water for the 60th edition of WBW!!

All the details for WBW #60-I Have Zinned can be found in my original post, here. Submit your Zinful entry to me at: on August 12! You can also leave a link here on Wannabe Wino Wine Blog and I will find it that way.  Even if you don’t have a blog, you can send me your entry and I will post it on Wannabe Wino.  If you send an email and don’t get an acknowledgment from me within the day, I didn’t get your entry!

Talk it up, and let’s do the 5th Birthday of WBW up right!

Posted in WBW, Wine

Bubbly Jury Duty

“So, do you know anything about Champagne?” asked disarmingly frank Inke Gouws, importer of the stuff at her husband’s Wynhuis restaurant in Newlands on Friday afternoon. I ducked the question by shamelessly resorting to name-dropping, mentioning that SA Airways had twice flown me to Champagne to serve on a panel that chose the stuff [...]

Zilliken Kabinett

Had a lovely, killer, freakish bottle of the 2001 Zilliken Saarburger Rausch Kabinett last week. Many bottles previously have dissapointed and not lived up to the vintage. Well my last bottle was a smoker. It had the depth, complexity and layers of a Kabinett from a great vintage such as 2001. Green apple fruit that is pure as the sky is blue and a long mineral, salty, tangy finish that just is electric. Acidity is where I like it, but not too out there. So focused. Not one piece out of place. Took long enough!

Had a very good bottle of the 2001 Zilliken Saarburger Rausch Kabinett which I was inspired to open after the excellent showing of the 2001. 2002 is considered a much better vintage at Zilliken than 2001. The 2002 Saarburger Rausch Spatlese was wonderful but my bottles are long gone and for some reason I had one of these hanging around. Very good wine but not a wow wine like the 2001. Crisp with a lovely silken texture and some rock candy lime and green apple flavors. Finish average. Just lacked the depth and structure of the 2001. Who knows, this might be sleeping. It could turn into another 2001 with the proper amount of age.

How To Write A Tasting Note – The Basics

Many times when I discuss wine with fellow enthusiasts, the subject of tasting notes always comes up. The most often heard comments are “I don’t know enough about wine to write a tasting note” or “I...

Bringing you straight forward, easy to understand and fun talk about all things wine while featuring engaging conversations with leaders and interesting people in all walks of life using wine as a conversation starter.

Butter Excess

Outside in the garden...the evening sun going down..and some delicacies...marinated paprikas....Parma Ham (not too salty) ..and a Waldorf Salad (fans of the classic show 'Fawlty Towers' will smile). This is what it can be about....not forgetting fresh bread (yes..I know it is a lot of butter...don't you lot start on me)...I had this two nights running...I do have to suffer you know...
Jurtschitsch Sonnhof Dechant Alte Reben
Grüner Veltliner 2007
Kamptal, Niederösterreich, Austria
Some oak here...lemon curd on the nose..spicy minerals...crisp on the palate though...creamy and buttery(again)...with the lemon kicking in at the back...this was perfect with the marinated paprikas....
Points 16.75