CLUBS


Cheese Reviews

 – by Kathy Guidi , of Artisan Cheese Marketing & Deborah Levy, of Savour This

These reviews and suggested wine pairings were prepared from samples of artisan and farmstead cheeses selected by WineryToHome.com for those subscribers of one of our WINE of the MONTH CLUB wine and cheese categories.

As each month's artisanal cheese selections are made – their reviews will be posted here. As with our wine reviews – the reviewer's initials and the date of their first tasting are shown. From time to time we do include in current shipments, popular cheeses that we've offered in the past. 


 

Alpidon 

The milkfat content of this cheese is 30% and its moisture content 35%.

Big Brother

Glengarry Fine Cheese
Lancaster, ON



DL 4/12

An excellent example of localization, Margaret Morris gets the milk for her cheese from 2 sources, the family farm run by her brother and a neighbouring farm. The combination of Holstein and Brown Swiss milk creates the characteristics of this semi-firm washed rind cheese. Aged for a minimum of 4 months on pine boards, the rind is thin, the typical orangey/copper coloured wash showing through the powdered ivory exterior. The aromas are earth and hay. Margaret mentions sometimes there is a little honey on the nose. The nuances, like honey, of cheese produced from dedicated herds tend to change as the cows vary their diet. The flavours are complex, changing as you savour. The paste can be buttery to grassy with a hint of salt, the nutty rind is slightly bitter but as with all washed rinds, is meant to be eaten.


Suggested Wines: Medium to full-bodied reds - Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah or blends.


Athena
The milkfat content of this cheese is 25% and its moisture content 35%.

Hardwood Smoked 2 Year Old Cheddar

Cows Creamery
Charlottetown, PEI



DL 1/12

Cows Creamery has been making award-winning cheddars since 2006, based on a recipe from the remote Orkney Islands in the far north of Scotland. Their newest cheese creation, Hardwood Smoked 2 Year Old Cheddar, is naturally smoked for 6 hours to create a rich cheese with a smooth creamy texture and smoky meaty aroma. The distinctive PEI flavour of this unpasteurized milk cheese is derived from the proximity to salt water along with the iron-rich red soil of the island.


Suggested Wines: Most reds – including Cabernet blends, Pinot Noir and Syrah as well as Chardonnay.


Cottage Gold
The milkfat content of this cheese is 32% and its moisture content 40%.

Tre-Carre

Fromagerie Blackburn
Jonquière, Québec



KG 5/11

A new farmhouse cheese from Fromagerie Blackburn who began making fine cheese on the farm in 2006 from the milk produced by their Holstein cows. This firm washed rind cheese has sharp, yeasty notes along the edible exterior and a pleasantly tangy, smooth interior studded with small pinhole eyes. While a fine table cheese, it shines when melted in a Panini or in a potato gratin.


Suggested Wines: Lighter bodied fruity reds like Merlot.


Cow's Extra Old Cheddar
The milkfat content of this cheese is 32% and its moisture content 37%.

Le Bocke

Fromagerie Champêtre
Repentigny, Québec



KG 9/06

The unique flavour of this semi-soft cheese is achieved by hand washing the rind several times with Le Bocke Quebec Beer. Delicate flavours of roast hazelnut and wild mushroom compliment the yeasty aroma of beer.


Suggested Wines: Surprisingly wine friendly from Riesling to Pinot Noir.


Devil's Rock
The milkfat content of this cheese is 32% and its moisture content 44%.

Blue Haze

Abbaye St-Benoît, smoke finishing by Provincial Fine Foods
St-Benoît du Lac, Québec



KG 6/09

The cheese starts at the Abbey where a more compact version of their popular Ermite Blue is made. After 6-8 weeks the cheese receives a cold smoking over cherry and hickory chips just long enough to give it a bacony finish and browned cheese exterior. Skip the burger, melt a thick slice of this cheese on focaccia bread, fresh tomatoes and sweet onion. The cheese stands alone!


Suggested Wines: Bold reds with leather, smoky notes or fruity, sweet hard cider.


Eweda
Eweda is a semi-hard, aged cheese encased in wax. When it is allowed to mature for several months, the flavour grows to add a fruity, olivey taste to the natural creaminess. Hard cheeses are especially popular in Europe – notably France (Pyrénées), Spain (Manchego) and Italy (Pecorino Romano), but lovingly aged Canadian sheep milk hard cheeses are every bit as good as their European cousins.

Eweda Cru

Best Baa Dairy
RR 1, Conn, Ontario



KG 2/06

Lait 'Cru' is French for 'raw milk'. Unpasteurized English Dairy sheep milk and careful aging for one year are key to the flavour complexity of this cheese that is initially pleasantly sour, firm but creamy, and yielding to sweet buttery notes with lingering fruitiness. As beautiful outside as in, a grassy green wax coats the cheese reminding the eater of rolling grassy pastures where sheep graze.


Suggested Wines: Gewurztraminer, Merlot or rich Gamay.


Blue Ermite
The milkfat content of this cheese is 30% and its moisture content 44%.

Toscano

Monforte Dairy
Stratford, Ontario



KG 9/09

'Pecorino' is 'sheep milk' in Italian: while 'Toscano' refers to pecorino cheeses of Tuscany. Starting with rich organic sheep milk from Ontario Mennonite shepherds, Monforte's Toscano is worthy of the name, with an edible brushed rind, straw coloured interior, and delicate herbaceous aroma. Cured at least 90 days to develop the lovely dry yet smooth texture and balanced nutty to grassy flavours, suggesting a hint of rosemary. Serve at room temperature, and savour this fine cheese by sucking rather than chewing it.


Suggested Wines: Cabernet Franc or Gamay.


Prestige
The milkfat content of this cheese is 21% and its moisture content 56%.

Mamirolle

Fromagerie Eco-Delices
Plessisville, Québec



KG 5/09

The creamy texture and supple body of this pasteurized cow milk cheese develops with hand washing and turning on pine boards for 3-4 weeks. Flavour is milk and fruity when young, rich, grassy and aromatic when mature in 80-90 days. The farm where the cows pasture are across the road from the cheese factory. (say: mam ear oh)


Suggested Wines: If the cheese is young, crisp fruity whites; if mature, lighter reds like baco or pinot noir. Late Harvest sweet wine is also excellent with this washed rind. Gewurztraminer, Merlot or rich Gamay


Lighthall Tomme
The milkfat content of this cheese is 27% and its moisture content 40%.

Grey Owl

Fromagerie le Détour
Notre-Dame-du-Lac, Québec



KG 8/08

Fresh Chevre lovers rejoice! This is your next step in goat milk cheese appreciation! Soft, dense and luxuriously smooth white curd enrobed in a dark grey speckled vegetable ash rind. Made in the style of classic French Loire goat cheeses with flavours that are impeccably fresh yet incredibly complex, while the pleasant lemony tartness lingers. As it ages, a creamy layer develops beneath the rind.


Suggested Wines: Dry and crisp or off-dry fruity whites.


Geai Bleu
The milkfat content of this cheese is 26% and its moisture content 47%.

Fleur en Lait

Glengarry Dairy
Lancaster, ON



KG 3/09

Introduced in Jan 2009, this washed rind cheese is made from pasteurized Ayershire cow milk giving the cheese a rich yellow colour and buttery texture. Rustic in aroma, with lovely bitter nut and savoury flavours that offer complexity and linger nicely.


Suggested Wines: Spicy, off dry whites like Riesling or Gewürztraminer


Cape Vessey
The milkfat content of this cheese is 24% and its moisture content 54%.

Tomme de Grosse Île

SCA L'Île-aux-Grues
Île-aux-Grues, Québec



KG 10/08

The distinctive flavour of this farmstead cheese hails from the thermalized milk of Brown Swiss cows fed exclusively on salty hay (le foin de batture) from the island's shore. The ivory coloured creamy paste is encased in a tan, edible washed rind, delivering an earthy, salty grass aroma and musky mushroom flavour that unfolds in layers on the palate. The name was chosen as a remembrance of Grosse- Île being the last resting place for several thousand Irish immigrants.


Suggested Wines: Full bodied white to earthy red depending on the age of the cheese.


Granello
The Paron Cheese Company is the oldest family-owned cheese company in Ontario (and perhaps Canada). It is still operated by the 2nd and 3rd generation of the founder who emigrated from Friuli in 1930. Originally, he sold to fellow Fruilians and over time – the reputation of the traditionally-made cheeses grew steadily. Today the company's mantra is quality and not quantity and all Paron cheeses are made without preservatives or additives.

Miranda

Fromagerie Fritz Kaiser
Noyan, Qué
bec


KG 8/08

This amazing pasteurized cow milk cheese has a rusty coloured rind covering the firm, dense, ivory paste. Flavours are richly nutty to pleasantly fruity, developed slowly with daily washing every few days during the 8 to 12 month curing period. In the Canadian French colony period, the town of Noyan was part of the region of Miranda, hence the cheese name. Winner Swiss Cheese Category - Canadian Cheese Grand Prix, 2006


Suggested Wines: Wine friendly to both red or white


Blackburn
The milkfat content of this cheese is 26% and its moisture content 39%.

Peau Rouge

Les Dependances du Manoir
St-Hubert, Québec

KG 4/08

The collaboration of cheesemaker and affineur practiced in Europe for centuries comes to life in this fantastic semi-soft washed rind cheese that is new in Ontario. Fromagerie Fritz Kaiser makes the cheese from pasteurized cow milk and Jean-Philippe Gosselin does the finishing (maturing in ideal conditions). The result is a rich nutty to fruity cheese with grassy notes and a lovely sprinkling of grana in the body. Who says you can't recreate the full flavour of raw milk in a pasteurized cheese? Fritz Kaiser has done it again!


Suggested Wines: Earthy to fruity medium reds…quite red wine friendly


Champagnole
The milkfat content is 23% and moisture content 54%.

Mont Jacob

Fromagerie Blackburn
Jonquière, Québec

KG 3/08

Made with pasteurized cow milk from the Saquenay Lac-St-Jean area, this semi-soft washed rind cheese has an open body, smooth texture and complex lingering buttery sweetness while being slightly tangy to sour on the finish with nuts and dry fruit to complete the flavour experience. Definitely a Five WOW cheese!


Suggested Wines: Crisp fruity Riesling to light reds like Pinot Noir


Perron 2-Year Aged Cheddar
The milkfat content is 34% and the moisture content 39%.

Chocolate Cheese Fudge (cold pack cheese food)

Pine River Cheese

Ripley, ON

KG 1/08

The farmers who own Pine River Cheese have delivered the milk since 1885. Cheese Fudge is cold pack cheese food, which is a long way of saying how it is made. Cheese is chopped up in a food processor and mixed with other ingredients (in this case dark cocoa) until spreadable.

What could be better than cheese and dark chocolate in every morsel, except enjoying it with a rich red wine that has chocolate flavour notes! (Suggestion: surprise your Valentine and cut a cold chunk of the Cheese Fudge into a heart shape (of course you get to nibble on the trim).

Suggested Wines: Meritage or deep red wine with chocolate notes, as well as Late Harvest or Icewine.


Smoked Extra Old Cheddar
The milkfat content of this cheddar is 32% and its moisture content 36%.

Blue Juliette

Salt Spring Island Cheese

Salt Spring Island, BC

KG 11/07

David Woods, creator of this cheese gets 10 out of 10 for this lovely soft disc of pasteurized goat milk curd. A thin bloomy rind laced with blue-grey mould to up the flavour a notch toward piquant without overpowering the delicate mushroom aroma and taste. Kept in proper conditions, Blue Juliette is best eaten near or just after the best before date.

Suggested Wines: Fruity medium body reds like Gamay


Riopelle de l' Îsle
The milkfat content of this cheese is 35% and its moisture content 50%.

5 Year Orange Cheddar

Pine River Cheese & Butter Co-Op

Ripley, Ontario

KG 10/07

Ontario Cheesemakers since 1885, Pine River has a reputation for premium Cheddar. It's made from fresh thermalized cow milk in the traditional manner and then naturally aged 5-years. The balanced sharp, clean flavour, and smooth texture are great, despite a body that is far too crumbly. Temper it to room temperature for full flavour and just like some wines … enjoy it now as the flavour will not get better.

Suggested Wines: Lovely with fruit forward and full bodied red wines


PEI Clothbound Cheddar
The milkfat content is 32% and the moisture content 36%.

Tomme de Gaston

Oxford Mills Creamery

Oxford Mills, Ontario

KG 5/07
This cheese has been top of my favourite list since discovering it last fall. This handcrafted raw sheep milk cheese is the colour of hay, firm yet smooth with an open (pinholes) body. The layers of flavour range from horseradish to citrus to the lovely barny of French mountain cheeses. Truly a world-class cheese.


Suggested Wines: Wine friendly from spicy whites to earthy lighter reds.


Green Peppercorn
This cheesemaker located 30 minutes South of Winnipeg has been in continuous operation since 1936. It was originally started by a small group of dairy producers and prides itself on its record of award-winning cheeses. This cheese contains extremely expensive black truffles and its milkfat content is 29% and its moisture content 42%.

La Prairie

Fromagerie de L'Alpage

Chateauguay, Québec

KG 5/07
Lovely organic Camembert style cheese made from raw organic cow milk. A velvety bloomy rind surrounds the smooth, supple body. Lingering flavours are of milk, mushroom and turnip. Happy cows make great milk for cheese!


Suggested Wines: Very wine friendly with crisp white or sparkling wines and fruity summer Rose


Empereur
The milkfat content is 24% and the moisture content 50%.

Ermite

Abbaye St-Benoît

St-Benoît du Lac, Québec

KG 4/07
Made by monks at the Abbey from pasteurized whole cow milk, this semi-soft blue is the younger 'brother' of Bleu Benedictin. With one-month age, the cheese will be a bit less creamy and have a more bold rather than complex flavour. Perfect for on steaks and burgers!

Suggested Wines:
Fruity medium body reds like Gamay

Ramembert
A small bloom ripened camembert style cheese with a delicate, fluffy white rind surrounding a smooth and luxurious ivory cream – with a fairly firm, piquant white centre. The aroma and flavour are mushroomy with hints of earthiness and grass. The cheese is at its best then the sides yield easily to pressure. Store in fridge when ripe and let it breathe (the wrapping paper does have air holes). If the cheese is still firm, keep a little longer or place overnight in a warmer area (15-17degrees). Milkfat content is 25% and moisture content is 25%.

Black Truffle

Bothwell Cheese Inc

New Bothwell, Man.

KG 3/07
Truffles lovers rejoice! You are going to love this cheese delightfully seasoned with Italian black summer truffles. The cheese is creamy and mild letting the truffles lead the combination. Enjoy it 'au natural' or use for cooking!

Suggested Wines: Whatever you prefer with Truffles … especially earthy red wines.

Soeur Angèle

Serra

Portuguese Cheese Company

Toronto, Ontario

KG 3/07
Mild with the salty tang typical of this traditional Portuguese style cheese (somewhat reminiscent of Italian Friulano) made in Toronto. Used as a table cheese when it is young and creamy, and as a grating cheese when aged and firmer.

Suggested Wines: Full bodied whites or light reds

Fleurmier de Charlevoix
The milkfat content is 27% and the moisture content 54%.

 

Thunder Oak Farmstead Gouda
with Fenugreek


Thunder Oak Cheese Farm

Thunder Bay, Ontario

KG 2/07
The combination of fine mild gouda and the unusual Asian spice Fenugreek raises the bar on flavoured cheese experience from every day ordinary to extraordinary. Of course it works mostly because cheesemaker Walter Schep adds the seeds with their complex citrus tang (normally a part of curry spice), at a precise moment in the cheesemaking process to wonderful Thunder Oak Gouda curd.

Suggested Wines: Wine friendly for with crisp fruity whites or lighter reds


Sweet Provolone

This little known cheese maker has been producing specialty Italian cheeses for over 35 years. Cheeses range from fresh (eg – Scamorza) to those aged a year (eg - Aged Pepato). The milkfat content of this cheese is 24% and the moisture content 45%.

biobio Organic Swiss

Gattuso Organic Foods

Montréal, Québec

KG 1/07
Certified Organic by Quebec Vrai (OCQV), biobio Organic Swiss is made without rennet, using organic raw cow milk. Naturally aged 3 months to develop rich flavour notes of sweet milk and almond, this classic firm cheese is dotted with large eyes (holes). The organic milk is from family operated farms which favour the natural balance between land, water, plants, animals and humans through less intensive production methods, and in keeping with traditional ways.

Suggested Wine: Crisp dry to fruity whites


Le Fetard
The milkfat content is ~ 28% and the moisture content ~ 46%.

Maple Smoked 2-yr Cheddar

Bothwell Cheese

New Bothwell, Manitoba

KG 1/07
Premium white Canadian Cheddar from Manitoba is aged a minimum of 2 years, then naturally smoked by a chef using maple wood shavings, to create a creamy textured, smokey tasting cheddar with a pleasant lingering taste. The perfect balance in an all-Canadian flavour tradition!

Suggested Wines: Big fruit forward reds like Meritage.

Le Ciel de Charlevoix

La Maison d'affinage Maurice Dufour

Baie-St-Paul, Québec

KG 12/06
Created in 2000, with a name inspired by the skies of the Charlevoix. This artisanal raw cow milk blue cheese has a gray natural rind and is aged 60 days to develop complexity. Musty mushroom aroma, ultra-creamy texture and full, lingering, blue flavour with hints of salt, define this cheese.

Suggested Wines: Sweet wines and fruity, bigger reds like Cab Franc, Meritage or Cab Sauvignon

Empire 4-yr Cheddar

Empire Cheese Company,

Campbellford, ON

KG 11/06
Traditional cheesemaking makes this aged cheddar special! (e.g. using fresh milk and natural rennet) The aroma is milky, the body dense, the texture creamier than the age suggests, yet exibiting the typical graininess of a 4-year. The flavour is extra sharp with a touch of fruitiness.

The Dairy farmers who produce the milk, own Empire Cheese. They make a variety of cheddars, most sold through the factory store.

Suggested Wines: Fruity full body reds like Cab Franc


I am sorry to say not all cheese is created equal. This month we have fine examples of three common cheese varieties. The cheeses are 'fine' because of the cheesemaker's craftsmanship, and decisions like level of milk fat, size/format, and/or milk processing (raw or thermalized). Investing in quality translates to fine subtleties that allow some cheeses stand out from others.

Biobio Sharp Organic Cheddar

Gattuso Organic Foods

Montréal Québec

KG 10/06
Certified Organic by Quebec Vrai (OCQV), this Organic Cheddar is made using organic raw milk and is rennet-free. It is then naturally aged for a year to fully develop the classic fruity, sharp cheddar taste. The milk comes from family operated farms. The pastures the cows graze in, the fodder and grains they are fed, are free of synthetic pesticides, fertilizers and GMO's.

Suggested Wines: Fruity red wines will compliment the fruitiness of the cheese.


What the rind is washed with greatly influences the flavour of a washed rind cheese. Demonstrate this to yourself with our first two selections this month; one is washed with cider, the other with beer. And while you are at it, celebrate apple season with crisp apples and a remarkable goat cheddar.

Le Grand Chouffe

Fromagerie Champêtre Repentigny, Québec

KG 9/06
The unique flavour of this semi-soft cheese is achieved by hand washing the rind several times with La Chouffe Belgian Beer. Delicate flavours of roast hazelnut and wild mushroom compliment the yeasty aroma of beer. 'Chouffe' means dwarf, hence the little fellow on the label.

Suggested Wine: Surprisingly wine friendly from Riesling to Pinot Noir.


 

Alfred Le Fermier


Fromagerie La Station de Compton

Compton, Québec


KG 8/06
Simon-Pierre Bolduc has created another masterpiece, named after his uncle. This firm, washed rind cheese is made from the raw organic milk of the family's purebred Holsteins. Carefully aged a minimum of eight months, this 'big brother' to Comtomme has a savoury balance of roast hazelnut and herbal flavours with a bit of tingling effervescence in the finish. DO eat the rind; it is wonderfully flavourful.

Suggested Wine: Begs for full Merlots or lighter Meritage wines, yet matches nicely with Late Harvest too.

Comtomme


Fromagerie La Station Compton, Québec

KG 7/06
This savory semi-soft, washed rind cheese is made with the organic milk of purebred Holstein cows. A ruddy colour rind surrounds a rich ivory paste. The enticing aroma and complexity of milky, fruity and roasted nut flavours, signify raw milk has been used. Finalist, Washed Rind Category – 2006 Canadian Cheese Grand Prix

Suggested Wine: Quite wine friendly, crisp to full whites or lighter fruity reds

Le Rassembleu


Les Fromagiers de la Table Ronde, Québec

KG 7/06
While most blue cheeses are semi-soft and creamy, Rassembleu is firm in body with a woodsy aroma and flavour from organic raw milk. The blue notes are subtle and lingering. Perfect for the person new to blue, yet a rare treat for the aficionado of blue.

Suggested Wine: Sweet wines and bigger reds with low tannins


One of the best-kept secrets in Toronto is International Cheese Company in the Keele and St. Clair area. This gem of a cheese factory has been producing Italian specialty cheeses by hand for over 35 years. There is lovely retail store on premise if you want to explore some of the other varieties.

Fillisberg


International Cheese Co.

Toronto, Ontario

KG 6/06
Not even remotely Italian in style, the cheesemaker had a flash of creativity and made this is a very interesting cheese! Semi-soft, natural waxy but moist rind, light orange colour. The smoky aroma and pleasant flavour are reminiscent of breakfast bacon. The texture is a bit grainy like that of the British 'crumblie' cheeses. Definitely worth a try.

Suggested Wine: Full bodied slightly sweet whites or lighter reds with some smoky tobacco qualities.

Comfort Cream

Upper Canada Cheese Co.

Jordan Station, ON

KG 5/06
This new Ontario artisan cheese is handcrafted from the milk of a single herd of Guernsey cows pastured on the Comfort Farm. The tender, white bloomy rind surrounds a velvety soft, honey coloured interior similar to double cream Brie. Aroma and flavours of cultured cream and earthy mushrooms linger nicely and become more pronounced as the cheese matures. For a full flavour experience, be sure to eat the rind.

Suggested Wine: A very wine friendly cheese. As lovely with sparkling to full bodied whites as it is with light fruity reds.

Montasio

Paron Cheese Co.

Hannon, ON

KG 5/06
A dolce (mild) version of a classic Italian specialty. The sweet, buttery to nutty flavours of this firm, rindless, ivory coloured cheese is a prelude to the deeper flavours the cheese achieves with even a few more weeks of maturity. At any age, Montasio is a welcome addition to summer cheese platters.

Suggested Wine: Light floral whites or Roses or even a fruity Merlot if the cheese has some age on it.

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