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Abondance was originally made by monks at the Abbaye d’Abondance (Abondance Abbey) in the 12th century.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 Beer Club: Iowa

Manzana LinTrabanco
Manzana Lin Sidra Natural
Gijón, Asturias, Spain

Manzana Lin is a special, limited production release from Trabanco. This single-site cider is made of Lin apples sourced from the San Pedro de Anes orchard. The juice is fermented with indigenous yeasts and in accordance with the guidelines for “Sidra Natural,” producing a low-alcohol cider that is tart and lacks carbonation. Sidra Natural should be served cold in a wide glass and poured from great height to break up the residual carbonic gas. Only a small amount (one sip’s worth) should be poured into the glass at a time.

BeerStyles: Fruity and Spicy
Style: Sidra Natural (Cider)
ABV:
6%
Apples: 70% Lin with a blend of local apples sourced from the San Pedro de Anes orchard.

Vinification: This cider has been fermented with indigenous yeasts and in accordance to the guidelines for “Naturally Fermented Quality Ciders.”

ABOUT THE CIDERY:

Like most families from the Asturian countryside, the Trabanco Family made their own cider from their own apples, but in 1925 Emilio Trabanco decided to turn this household hobby into a family business; creating Trabanco Cider. Using the best apples of selected varieties and following traditional methods, Trabanco Cider quickly became known throughout the region as the premier natural cider from Asturias. Not much has changed since then, the Trabanco family is still using traditional methods, augmented with modern technologies, to produce exceptional Asturian ciders. From a very young age, all of the members of the family are involved in the production process, from the apple picking and weighing, to operating the press. The family business continues to grow, as their inheritance is passed from one generation to the next.

Asturias Map

Asturias Map by Paul Dangel

Trabanco Orchard

Trabanco Orchard. Photo by Steven Alexander

Isastegi CiderIsastegi
Sagardo Naturala
Tolosa (Isastegi), Spain

Sagardo Naturala, or “natural cider” is from the Basque Country in Spain, where basque ciders have been produced for over 2,000 years.  Golden-green hue in the glass, Isastegi’s Sagardo Naturala has ripe notes of apple on the nose, but lead to an acidic, malted apple on the palate. The finish is crisp and fresh. This cider goes through a completely natural fermentation process in large wooden barrels and is bottled fresh without filtration. Sagardo Naturala is more bitter than most ciders, with only mild residual carbonic acid. It should be served cold in a wide glass and poured from great height to break up the residual carbonic gas. Only a small amount (one sip’s worth) should be poured into the glass at a time.

BeerStyles: Fruity and Spicy
Style: Sagardo Naturala (Natural Cider)
ABV:
6%
Apples:
A blend of over a dozen native varietals
Vinification:
After fermentation in kupelas (old, large, oak cider barrels) the cider is bottled fresh and without filtration before each shipment.

ABOUT THE CIDERY:

Isastegi is an old family estate located in the town of Tolosa in the Basque Country of Spain. The estate was originally covered by pastures for cattle, with only a few apple trees for the family to make a small amount of cider for itself. In 1983 they decided to switch from livestock to cider output and started selling their cider to the public. Over the years the demand for Isastegi cider has increased and the family’s country house has adapted to the changes. Pastures were replaced by orchards, while renovations added new state-of-the-art pressing and bottling rooms and a larger spaces for the kupelas (old, large, oak cider barrels). Isastegi prides themselves on their local focus and adhere to the strict guidelines of Basque Ciders by using only local apples with no added carbonation or sugars.

Basque Country

Map by Paul Dangel

Isastegi

Isastegi Cidery