Rogue River Blue
Milk: Raw Cow’s Milk
Rennet: Animal Rennet
Region: Rogue River, Oregon
Dairy : Rogue Creamery
This seasonal, raw cows milk blue is made by Rogue Creamery in Oregon. The key word here is seasonal and sadly, tis the END of its season. This cheese has won many awards nationally and internationally. Most recently, it won 2nd place for “Blue-Veined Made From Cow’s Milk With A Rind or External Coating” at the 2010 American Cheese Society (ACS) conference. In 2009, this cheese won Best in Show at the ACS conference, which is pretty much the best award an American cheese can receive.
Rogue River Blue is a limited production cheese and can only be made between the fall equinox and the winter solstice when the milk of the pasture-grazed herd of Brown Swiss and Holstein cows at the local dairy is rich in protein and milk solids, creating the cheese’s uniquely complex flavor. The wheels are hand-wrapped in local Syrah grape leaves that have been macerated in Clear Creek Distillery Pear Brandy and aged up to one year before its release each fall.
On the palate the cheese is rich and fudgy. The sweet cream flavors are complimented by the pear fruit flavors that take turns being sweet and ripe to slightly oxidized (in a pleasant way). The bite of blue veining seals the deal, making this a full-flavored experience well-worth pursuing.
Chasing Lions Napa Valley Red, California
Producer: Nine North Wine Co
Region: Napa Valley, California
Grapes: 55%Merlot, 25% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Cabernet Franc, 7% Syrah, 3% Petit Verdot
The name ‘Chasing Lions’ came from James Harder’s past as a 4th generation farmer on his family farm in British Columbia, Canada. One day in his late teens, his grandfather told him to “get off the ranch and start chasing lions.” For those of you who are unfamiliar with this expression, it means to go chase your dreams without fear of failure. Thus, the Nine North Wine Company was born. Nine North Wine Co. is a dream of two wine-loving and winemaking friends from Canada, who moved to the prestigious Stag’s Leap district of Napa Valley, CA. Together with other winemakers, these gentlemen own and create 7 wine labels of unique, handcrafted wine to express the complex and distinctive terroir of this region of Napa Valley.
This wine exhibits aromas of dark currant, cedar, spice box and espresso. Expect flavors of licorice, dark cherry, mocha and toasty oak. At half the price of your standard Napa Valley wine, it is dense, medium-bodied and exhibits an elegant, smooth texture with great balance.
The nose on both this wine and cheese are unmistakable in the best possible way. The Napa Wine has an intoxicating bouquet of black cherry and pine wood warmth that plays with the “dairy pear” of the cheese. I am crazy about the wine: Comfortable and Sexy = Enticing. This is an enticing red. And, let’s face it, you have never had a blue like this. Enticing and unique might be the most apt phrase for this week. The strength of the tannin in the wine (which start soft and then builds) is matched in strength by the fatty creaminess of the cheese. What makes this pairing especially fun is the curiosity of the finish. Two relatively sweet things actually combine to make a rather warm and enjoyable bitter.
Cesar, Jill & Jonathan