This week's pairing is a subtle "wink" at the classic Alsatian pairing of Muenster and white wine.
Conundrum "Washed Moses"
Producer: Cellars at Jasper Hill
Region: Greensboro, VT
Milk: Pasteurized Cow
It is with great excitement that we bring you the opportunity to participate in the product development process for a new cheese, known as the "Conundrum Project". It is a way for the Cellars at Jasper Hill to share new and experimental cheeses with key retailers and other cheese professionals. They are looking to us to provide them with objective feedback on appearance, aromas, texture and flavor profile.
Some of you may remember Harbison, a one time Conundrum Project cheese. This cheese was so popular and received such positive feedback that the Cellars are now producing it fairly regularly. So, the current incarnation of Conundrum is that of a washed-rind cheese. The thin, tacky Brevi rind offers zero sandiness (a positive in my book) and exudes aromas of stone fruit with a savory undertone. The cheese has a delicate, lush texture reminiscent of the soft ripened cheese that this began as. With a few more weeks under its belt, that texture starts to turn pudding-like, in the best way possible. Think biscuits and cream. Yum!
Producer: Domaine Binner
Region Alsace, France
Grapes: Auxerrios, Sylvaner, Pinot Gris, Gewurtztraminer
Farming: Biodynamic / Organic
We love them all, but 'Saveurs' is our favorite bottle on the shelf right now. Hazy summer sunset in color, this blend of 35-100 year old vines from 6 hectares speckled across premier locations in Alsace encompasses all the wonders of natural wine-making while maintaining elegance. The Binner family is also working as a kind of nano-negociant. Sourcing grapes for some of their wines from friends' small organic certified vineyards. I had this bottle with me at my dinner at Goosefoot (12 course BYOB French restaurant in Lincoln Square) and was shocked by its versatility with food.
On the lees aging and very late harvesting lead to a round and ripe wine. The floral aromatics of Gewurtztraminer float above the wine that carries flavors of burnt orange peel, ripe peach, raw honey and sandy minerals. The medium body is lifted slightly as the wine takes on an ever so slight effervescence in the bottle. This wine is complex and finishes very long and serves to be a go-to when I have the desire to impress someone that "doesn't drink whites".
Guest Monger: Patrick
A take on the classic pairing of French muenster (No, not that supermarket cheese!) and Alsatian white, this week's pairing proves to be a successful contrast pairing. My first instinct when smelling Jasper Hill Farm's 'Conundrum' project is the scent of a house where there lurks a tub of slowly fermenting sauerkraut. The cheese proves much milder than expected, with earthy notes and a bubble gum 'dustiness' in the mid-palate. The cheese finishes with notes of baby kale and parsley. Saveurs asserts a vibrant green apple nose, with a caramel-apple pop-like intensity. Very ripe lychee and rambutan fade into a bold minerality, ending with a very pleasant dryness. While the cheese is restrained and almost mellow, the Saveurs is bright and acidic. Saveurs lifts the cheese up and allows one to appreciate the earthy nuances that may otherwise hide on one's palate.