Just in time for our Exploring France class comes this week's pairing: a meeting of trappist-style American-made cheese from Connecticut and a French wine, a 2008 bottling of Saint Emilion Grand Cru.
Producer: Cato Corner Farm
Location: Colchester, CT
Milk: Raw Cow (mostly Jersey)
First a bit about the farm...Cato Corner Farm, located in Colchester, CT is the product of a mother and son team. Elizabeth (mom) has owned the farm for over 30 years and began dairying in the late 1990's as a way to keep the farm sustainable. Currently the herd consists of 40 Jersey cows who are allowed to graze freely on lush pasture grasses. Mark (son) joined his mom on the farm in 1999 and is responsible for making all of their glorious cheeses and for managing the aging process.
Bridgid's Abbey is a bit of an unsung hero in the case. This is by far Cato Corner's most popular and well known cheese. The name comes from the Irish patron saint of milkmaids, Saint Brigid. According to legend, she was kicked out her house after she started to give away her family's milk and other provisions to local beggars. So much for charity...
The cheese itself is just a sweet with a slightly lactic and acidic finish. In the mid-palate there's a nice dusty grassiness that makes for some fantastic eating.
2008 St. Emilion Grand Cru
Producer: Chateau Mangot
AOC: St. Emilion
Grapes: 85% Merlot, 10 % Cabernet Franc, 5% Cabernet Sauvignon
Another astonishing value from Pastoral friend Ron Spears (Grape News Importing). Medium bodied with gentle tannins. Drinking quite well right now with a pronounced wet clay and mineral core. The fruit is cold, wild blueberry and fig with an ever-so-slight whisper of black peppercorns.
St. Emilion just doesn't seem to exist at this price point and when it does, it often doesn't deliver or was bottled last Thursday. I am an avid proponent of Merlot from all over the world, let this particular Merlot-heavy blend show the grape's capacity for restraint, engaging and elegant fruit, and ability to allow the soil from where it came to have a voice.
Guest monger: debbie
Brigid's Abbey is a sweet (meaning, awesome) cheese. Our current wheels have a balanced salt content, are very buttery, and have a meaty and almost smokey flavor. Eating the rind with this cheese is fantastic - very hay-like. It's lactic tanginess makes me crave a beverage. Perhaps a nice medium-bodied Saint-Emilion Grand Cru from 2008. This wine is beginning to show itself with some very nice dark berries; I thought plum, very ripe. It's medium spicy, with perhaps some baking spice flavors, I get slight vanilla bean on the nose and
Civil Unionizing Brigid's Abbey and Saint-Emilion Grand Cru create a pleasantly sweet and smooth pairing. The brininess of the cheese is toned down a bit with a wash of the Bordeaux. The finish is mouth-watering with a pleasant acidity.