August Cheese Club: Iowa

cheese_club_logo-1240x1240Abondance CheeseAbondance AOP
Rodolphe Le Meunier
Haute-Savoie, France

Abondance, is a semi-hard, traditionally French, mountain cheese produced in the Abondance Valley of Haute Savoie, in the Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes region of France. The cheese is made exclusively from unpasteurized cow’s milk sourced from its own breed of cattle, Abondance, as well as Taurine and Montbéliarde. Abondance features a slightly grainy and creamy paste with floral, vegetal, and nutty aromas. On the palate, there’s a beautiful balance of sweetness to acidity; it tastes intensely fruity and buttery with a hazelnut flavor.  Before eating, remove the natural rind its gray layer underneath.

WINE & CRAFT BEER PAIRINGS:
Abondance cheese pairs wonderfully with a dry white wine from the Savoie region; or a light red, such as a Gamay Beaujolais or a light Pinot Noir.  Additionally, this cheese pairs well a crisp, pale lager or a kolsch.

WINESTYLES: Crisp and Fruity
BEERSTYLES: Crisp and Clean

PRODUCTION:
Abondance cheese has had an Appellation d’origine contrôlée (AOC) designation since 1990.  AOC designations were created to ensure products with long histories and strong senses of terroir will guard their identity and uniqueness in the marketplace. With this designation, a cheese producer cannot call a cheese Abondance if it is not made within the confines of a singular region, or according to traditional methods and specifications, similar to wine AOCs like Bordeaux, Bourgogne, and Champagne.

Abondance was originally made by monks at the Abbaye d’Abondance (Abondance Abbey) in the 12th century. In the late 1300s, the monks were the official supplier of cheeses to the Avignon popes. This rich, ivory-yellow cheese is made in the area’s mountain chalets from batches of raw milk that combine morning milk with milk from the previous evening. The milk is heated in a copper cauldron to 90° F to warm the curd that is formed, without cooking it. The curd is then cut, drained, put into a round wooden mold, and pressed for a day with a weight on it. It is then salted either by hand, or soaked in brine, then cave aged on spruce planks for six months at a temperature of 54° F and a humidity level of 95%. The cheese is brushed with brine and turned while aging.

Tomme d’Abondance

Comté Fort Saint-Antoine CheeseComté Fort Saint Antoine
Marcel Petite
Jura, France

Comté Fort Saint Antoine is a semi-firm, unpasteurized, aged, cow’s milk cheese from the Jura and Franche-Comté regions of Eastern France. Century-old techniques are used to make Comté, which is the most produced and consumed cheese in France. Made with unpasteurized cow’s milk, from Montbeliarde Cattle or French Simmental (or crossbreeds of the two), the taste is complex, nutty and caramelized with a lingering, but not sharp, flavor. The combination of sweetness and saltiness give this cheese an intriguing flavor. This mature Comté is firm but supple, with a buttery and oily texture. It is traditionally sold in huge blocks and matures for a year before it is ready for sale. The natural cave atmosphere of the fort allows this longer aged Comté to have a rich, nutty, fruitier and more flowery taste than its younger aged counterparts. Considered one of the finest cheeses in the world, a wedge of Comte reveals a pale yellow interior and a texture that can vary from silky, flabby to crystalline.

WINE & CRAFT BEER PAIRING: Comté Cheese is very versatile and pairs beautifully with a Chablis (Chardonnay), a Champagne, or a Pinot Noir. It also pairs well with a light lager, a blonde ale, or a pilsner.

WINESTYLES: Silky, Bubbly and Mellow
BEERSTYLES: 
Crisp and Clean

PRODUCTION:

In 1966, Marcel Petite discovered a defunct military fort in a forest of Haut Doubs, at 3600 feet altitude. The fort’s structure of cut and vaulted stone, covered with a thick layer of soil, providing ideal conditions for “affinage lent” (slow maturing). Petite realized that his Comté cheeses should be aged in their natural environment, near the mountain cheese dairies where they are made. This hard mountain cheese is matured to perfection in the silence and darkness of special caves where the cheese gets its unique taste, texture and color. There are several maturing cellars in the region where Comté is ripened for a minimum of 4 months to 18 or 24 months. Comté generally will get its name from the cellar where it was ripened, such as Comté Fort Saint-Antoine. Today, over 100,000 wheels are ripened for 10 to 20 months, in the Cathedral of Marcel Petite Comté.

Comté was one of the first few kinds of cheese to receive an AOC status in 1958. It is one of the most popular AOC cheeses in France with around 40,000 tons of annual production.

Comté Cheese Production

© Comté Marcel Petite

Comté Production

© Comté Marcel Petite

 

Monthly Cheese ClubDon’t let your Wine Club go home alone!

Join our Cheese Club and bring home a match made in heaven!

If you enjoy pairing cheese with wine, this is your club!  Each month you’ll discover specialty and artisan cheeses to pair with your Wine Club. Monthly cheese selections are chosen by your local WineStyles participating location. It’s the perfect opportunity to Taste, Learn and Enjoy® amazing artisan cheese every month! Only $19.99/month and your wine won’t be lonely!  Click to learn more >

July Cheese Club: Iowa

cheese_club_logo-1240x1240Iberico BonvallisBonvallis – Iberico Cheese
Valladolid, Spain

Bonvallis Iberico Cheese is a Manchego-style cheese, one of the most eaten in Spain. An authentic Iberico Cheese must have, by law, a maximum of 50% cow’s milk, a minimum of 15% goat’s milk, and a minimum of 15% sheep’s milk. If these amounts are not specified on the label, the cheese cannot be labeled ‘Iberico’. Bonvallis Iberico Cheese is compact and firm in texture. It features herby, grassy flavors from the goat and ewe milk, and a smooth, creamy texture from the cow’s milk. It is slightly lactic, yet mild and buttery on the palate; making this cheese tasty and aromatic.

WINE & CRAFT BEER PAIRINGS:
Bonvallis Iberico Cheese pairs wonderfully with wines from our Bubbly wine style category, such as a Cava. Additionally, Iberico cheese pairs well with our Fruity & Spicy beers, such as a cider.

WINESTYLES: Bubbly
BEERSTYLES: Fruity & Spicy

PRODUCTION:
Located in Valladolid, the capital of Castilla y León, the family-run dairy, Bonvallis, has produced their cheeses since 1984. The region of Castilla y León is well known for its vast production of sheep and blend cheeses, and cured meat products. Long cold winters and dry hot summers are the perfect conditions for manufacturing their products. Bonvallis Iberico can be semi-cured (around 2 months), cured (4-6 months) and aged (over 7 months).

Idizabal DOPAraz
Smoked Idiazabal Cheese
Basque County, Spain

Smoked Idiazabal by Araz is a traditional, farmhouse, hard cheese made from raw milk of Latxa or Carranza sheep in the Basque and Navarra regions of northern Spain. Named after the village of Idiazabal, the cheese received Spanish D.O. (Denomination of Origin) in 1987, which defines the basic regulations for the product’s manufacturer. Idiazabal is produced in the shape of a cylinder, with a smooth and hard natural rind that is pale yellow to amber in color. The cheese has a compact texture that is dry, but not crumbly, and feels pleasantly oily in the mouth. The rind carries the marks of the wooden moulds in which it was drained and the cheese itself has a characteristic smoky flavor, coming from the fireplaces it is stored near during the summer.

WINE & CRAFT BEER PAIRING: Idiazabal Cheese pairs beautifully with a medium-bodied tempranillo from our Fruity wine style category. It also pairs well with Fruity & Spicy beers, such as a cider or a sour.

WINESTYLES: Fruity
BEERSTYLES:
Fruity & Spicy

PRODUCTION:
In the summer, the sheep migrate to higher pastures to graze on the blossoming, new grass. During this time, the artisanal cheese makers milk the sheep, make the Idiazabal cheese and leave it in the rafter to mature for a minimum ripening of 2 months. At the end of summer, when the cheese makers return back to the lowlands with their sheep, the cheese has ripened and is ready for sale.

Monthly Cheese ClubDon’t let your Wine Club go home alone!

Join our Cheese Club and bring home a match made in heaven!

If you enjoy pairing cheese with wine, this is your club!  Each month you’ll discover specialty and artisan cheeses to pair with your Wine Club. Monthly cheese selections are chosen by your local WineStyles participating location. It’s the perfect opportunity to Taste, Learn and Enjoy® amazing artisan cheese every month! Only $19.99/month and your wine won’t be lonely!  Click to learn more >