January 12, 2009

January Wines and Cheeses That We Love, #1

Wine and Cheese We Love
Freeport Cheese & Wine

The Wines

One set of these wines (the ones from Spain - Altozano and Bodega Beronia Rioja) are all from the same family. Gonzalez Byass was founded in 1835 in the town of Jerez, Andalusia, in Southern Spain. Still in the hands of the founding family (now, the 5th generation), it has always produced excellent wines and grapes.

  • 1835 - founded
  • 1844 - Tio Pepe first sold in Great Britain
  • 1855 - the first cellars inaugurated
  • 1870 - Opening of the Bodega "La Concha" inspired in the designs of Gustave Eifeel
  • 1936 - Tio Pepe logo launched

The Whites

Bodegas Gonzalez Byass Altozano Verdejo-Sauvignon Blanc 2007 (Spain) $9.99 - Brand new to Maine! Intense aromas of citrus, grapefruit, orange peel, tangerine and flowers. Flavors are fresh and full with good acidity. The finish is long with a touch of bitterness to balance the fruit. 70% Verdejo and 30% Sauvignon Blanc. Food pairing - fish, seafood, etc.

Dancing Coyote Chenin Blanc 2007 (California) $11.99 - Brand new to Maine! Crisp, clean white with flavors of pears, apples and limes. Nice acidity. 84% Chenin Blanc, 11% Gewurztraminer and 5% Orange Muscat. Stainless steel fermentation. Sees no oak or malolactic fermentation. Aged on lees for months to add richness and complexity. 413 cases made. Food pairings - grilled fish or other seafood. Chinese or Thai food. Cheeses.

The Reds

Bodegas Gonzalez Byass Altozano Tempranill-Shiraz 2006 (Spain) $9.99 - Aromas of ripe red fruits, stewed cherries and plums with hints of balsamic. Flavors that are full-bodied with a touch of oak. Brand new to Maine! 70% Tempranillo and 30% Shiraz. 25% is aged 5 months in French and American oak. Food pairing - cheeses, red meats and game.

Arido Malbec 2006 (Argentina) $9.99 - Arido (AH-ree-doh) means "arid" in English. Nice red fruit and violet aromas and classic Malbec spiciness. Soft and round flavors that match up with the aromas. Well-balanced acidity. The tannins are "sweet" - that means the tannins are there, but not overpowering or "drying" - it does not mean the wine is sweet! From the Finca Los Alamos vineyard in the Upper Uco Valley of Mendoza. This is a high desert that is at 3,500 feet above sea level with less than 4 inches of rain per year. During the growing season the temperature differential between night and day is 60 degrees. Blend of 90% Malbec and 10% Merlot. Manual harvest.

Bodega Beronia Rioja Crianza 2005 (Spain) $14.99 - Brand new to Maine! Beronia is named after the "Berones," a group of people who inhabited the area in the 3rd century BC. 82% Tempranillo, 14% Garnacha and 4% Mazuelo. Aged 12 months in French and American oak. 2005 is an excellent vintage. Flavors and aromas of raspberries, blackberries, dark herbs and ruby red grapefruit. Tannins are soft and integrated. Food pairing - pasta, lamb, steak, etc. 89 points, Wine & Spirits, 2008 "Year's Best Rioja - Best Buy"

Vistalba Corte C 2005 (Argentina) $13.99 - Violet red color. Rich aromas and flavors of red fruits and dried fruits. Notes of eucalyptus. In the mouth, this wine is soft and round with balanced tannins and a nice long finish. Carlos Pulenta's family estate is located in the center of Vistalba within the Lujan de Cuyo region of Argentina. The vineyard sits at the foot of the magnificent Cordon del Plata within the Andes Mountains. The characteristics of the poor soil in this area makes it the perfect home for many grapes, especially Malbec. 80% Malbec and 20% Merlot. From the Finca Vistalba vineyard in the Lujan de Cuyo. The large temperature swings from day to night during the growing season help develop color and tannins. Hand-harvested. 20% is aged in new French oak barrels for 12 months. Food pairing - steak, lamb - this is from Argentina afterall!

Tomero Cabernet Sauvignon 2005 (Argentina) $13.99 - Doug and Cat feel that some of the best wines to come out of Argentina today and in the future are Cabernet! Great value in a Cabernet! Aromas and flavors of jammy dark berry fruit, red berries, baking spices, black cherries and more.....easy to drink. Medium-to-full bodied with softer tannins that kind of have an Italian dustiness to them if you know what I mean (I don't mean dirty earth). Juicy and ripe fruit on the finish. 20% is aged in French oak barrels for 8 months. Bottle aged for 6-12 months at winery. Hand-harvested grapes. Also from the Finca Los Alamos vineyard in the Upper Uco Valley of Mendoza. This is a high desert that is at 3,500 feet above sea level with less than 4 inches of rain per year. During the growing season the temperature differential between night and day is 60 degrees. Food pairing - grill up a steak. Roast a chicken. Sauté a bunch of mushrooms.

The Dessert

Tobin James "Liquid Love"Late Harvest Zinfandel 2006 (California) $21.99 - It's not too early to start thinking about Valentine's Day (29 days from Friday)! Plus, who can't use a litlle love?! Deep and dark with rich dark berry and dark plum flavors. Vanilla aromas. Flavors of dark chocolate and orange. Not as heavy as a Port. Single vineyard that is picked very late in the season. This wine comes with a disclaimer: "Beware! Drink in moderation. We take no responsibility for what happens once this bottle is uncorked!"

The Cheeses

These are all rare, hand-crafted cheeses from the mountains in Switzerland (with one exception, the Abondance is from France).

The first 3 cheeses are all $22.99 a pound (elsewhere, they are $30/lb. and up). I don't think they'll sell at $30+/lb., especially in these economic times. I want to carry them.....so, I'm selling them for a lot less.

Bergkäse Selun - The name Bergkäse identifies these as mountain cheeses. From the village of Toggenburg in St. Gallen. This is a raw milk cheese from grass fed cows. This family broke away from the Tilsiter consortium and created their own new, unique cheeses. Organic farming and production. Based on the French cheese of the St. Néctaire. Creamy. Semi-firm. Small wheel about 12 inches in diameter and 1 1/2 inches high. Washed rind. Medium-strong in flavor. Strong, earthy aroma. Flavor is big and complex. Pairs well with ale style beers and a red wine such as Zweigelt or Cabernet Franc.

Försterkäse - a classic "lumberjack's" cheese from the region of Krummenswil in Northern Switzerland. So-called because of wooden fir bark band wrapping the cheese. Washed rind - washed with white wine. This is a "stinky" cheese. The combination of the white wine wash and fir bark creates a spicy, full flavor and a smooth, velvety texture. The fir adds flavors that penetrate the cheese as it ages. This is a raw milk cheese from grass fed cows. Organic farming and production. Only made in one place by one cheesemaker. More aromatic and flavorful than Vacherin Mont d'Or. About 9 inches in diameter and about an inch thick. Pairs well with Alsatian whites and a big red such as Amarone. Also, works with a strong beer. Fig cake and hazelnuts will work well with this cheese.

Vacherin Mont d'Or - A classic, soft, gooey cheese from Switzerland! From the Canton of Vaud. Earthy and salty. Pungent. This cheese originated as a Fall/Winter cheese because milk production wasn't sufficient to produce the large cheeses such as Gruyere. It's season runs from September to April. Wrapped in wood as is the Forsterskase. This is so creamy you can eat it with a spoon. You can also bake this! Made from "thermised" milk - the milk is gently heat treated to reduce harmful bacteria and preserve the milk's flavor. So, it isn't raw milk, but it isn't pasteurized, either. Pairs well with Gruner Veltliner.

Abondance - This is a high mountain cheese from the Haute-Savoie in France (near the border with Italy and Switzerland). Sharpness and tingle on the tongue. Nuttiness on the finish. Creamy, rich texture. Strong aromas. Flavors that are complex - from nutty to fruity. Hand-made cow's milk cheese from the Savoie in France. Firm texture and medium strength in flavor. Really rich! Similar to Comte or Beaufort. The wheel is about 15-18 inches across and about 3 inches high. It weigs about 22 lbs. It takes about 18 gallons of milk to make one wheel! Great melting cheese. Pair with crisp white wines or earthy reds. $19.99/lb.

Freeport Wine & Cheese
27 Bow Street
Freeport, ME 04032
(207) 865-3993


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