May 2016 Wine & Cheese Club: What shall we drink?

May 2016 Wine & Cheese Club: What should we drink?

We are big proponents of drinking seasonally, and our personal preferences change as the seasons do. Spring is tricky though- It’s that time of year when our drinking habits don’t know how to “dress for the weather.” One day it’s near 80 degrees, and the next day you’re wearing your winter coat again. Within the span of a week we’ve found ourselves reaching for a light white “porch pounder” as well as a hearty red for stew.  This month, our strategy is to stock your cellar with wines to prepare you for all circumstances.

We’re also taking advantage of some absolutely incredible deals from winemakers this month. With warmer weather comes a rise in wine consumption across the country, and wineries want you to pick their wines as your go-to for the months ahead. As a result, they’re offering incredible discounts on large quantity orders, which we are able to take advantage of thanks to wine club. For example, everyone receives the Roth Heritage Red. Regularly $35, we got it down to $18.99 with your help. The Chalk Hill Pinot Noir that red club receives is usually about $28, but this month it is $15.99. (Although our white wine this month isn’t as dramatically discounted, its incredible value gave us enough in our budget to work in these other great deals). We have a little bit of extra stock of the Roth and the Chalk Hill, so let us know if you’d like more. If enough members are interested in ordering a case each, we can take advantage of these deals for a few more weeks.

Roth Estate “Heritage” Sonoma County 2013
40% Syrah, 26% Zinfandel, 15% Petite Sirah, 8% Merlot, 7% Malbec, 4% Cabernet Sauvignon

We’ve been getting rave reviews of the big blends we have featured in wine club the past few months, and here we have perhaps the grandest example. Not much can be said for this style of wine that hasn’t been said in previous notes, but our employee Juliane does have this to add: “It’s a big a** wine, but you don’t have to buy special jeans for it.”

In terms of what to drink during schizophrenic spring weather, red blends are certainly at the top of the list. In winter, this style is a winter warmer, great with stews or just cozying up next to a fire. In warmer months, they become the ultimate grill wine that’s also satisfying as a “cocktail wine” on the deck. Considering their versatility, you can confidently pop this bottle regardless of the weather. Given the deal we have on it this month, it’s also an extra affordable luxury!

Cheese Pairing: Saxon Pastures Cheddar
This is a semi-firm, Old English style, aged bandage-wrapped cheddar. You’ll find a clean crispness and a lingering fruit background. The sweet, creamy texture is like no other Cheddar. This cheese develops it’s flavors as early as 6 months, but the flavor really pop at 10 months.  With its semi-firm texture and body, Pastures is a great table cheese and holds its flavor profile when grilled in sandwiches or used in warm dishes.

Vina Costeira “First One” 2014
Treixadura, Torrontés, Loureira, Albariño, and Godello

As we said above, we need to prepare you for any springtime wine situation…Here, we give you a no-fail “patio wine” (aka “porch pounder”) for you and your friends on a beautiful spring afternoon. Just the slightest touch of sweetness brings out elements of peach, mango and melon. This is balanced with some lime, minerality, and the acidity that comes from its cool climate origins.

Ribiero is in the province of Orense, in the Northwest corner of Spain, North of Portugal. The region is almost synonomous with the white wine Albariño, but this blend makes us wonder why we don’t see a greater variety of wines coming from this region!

This region also has a really fascinating history. Part of the autonomous community of Galicia, the area has strong Celtic and Roman influences and historical ties, and the majority of the citizens speak Galician as their first language. While too complex to go into here, it’s definitely worth more research and reading for those of you inclined to learn about such things!

Cheese Pairing: Leonora
Leonora is a goat’s milk cheese produced in the mountainous province of Leon in north western Spain, just East of Orense (where First One is made). Made from the pasteurized milk of Alpine goats, Leonora is a velvety bloomy rind log with a white, slightly flaky paste that is covered in ash. Initially, the texture is very smooth and dense but starts to become runny, translucent and break down just under the rind as the cheese ages. When young, Leonora’s flavours are balanced, bright, creamy and lactic with bright grass and lemon overtones. As it ripens, it can become strong and intense especially just below the rind.

Chalk Hill Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir 2013
For those of you receiving two red wines, the secondary theme is this month highlights the wide range of wine styles found in Sonoma. Together, the Chalk Hill Pinot Noir and the Roth Heritage Red showcase the vast range of styles, varietals, and climates that Sonoma encompasses. Where Napa got its reputation from Bordeaux varietals, Sonoma does a bit of everything- and very well.

It’s an open secret within the wine industry that the descriptions on the bottle rarely match the wines inside. However, we find that Chalk Hill’s description of this one is remarkably accurate and thoughtful. Keep in mind that with Pinot Noir, because it is a lighter style, the descriptions point to subtle and nuanced aspects- not flavors that will necessarily smack you in the face. They say:

Our 2013 Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir is medium ruby in color and displays expressive fruit aromas of dark cherry, truffle, espresso, dried cherries and incense. The palate is bright and full of cherry cola fruit with vanilla and oak undertones and a wonderful velvety texture. The finish on this Pinot is very long and detailed with softness and notes of maraschino cherry and oriental spice.

Cheese Pairing: Morbier
Morbier is to Gruyere what Valpolicella Ripasso is to Amarone: the leftovers of one renowned food turned into its own work of art. In the Jura region of France, farmers would take the curds leftover from making gruyere to make their own cheese- Morbier.  The thin line running down the center of the cheese is flavorless vegetable ash, traditionally used to protect a half-full cheese mold overnight until it could be filled with the next morning’s milk.   During aging, the rind is washed with a saline solution to preserve it and give it more aroma and flavor.  It’s creamy yet elastic, salty yet fruity. Originating in a cooler climate, it has concentrated restraint that matches intensity with the Chalk Hill Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir.

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