Finding the sweet spot; A wine and cheese pairing with a love story

A washed rind beauty made with love in NY.

A washed rind beauty made with love in NY.

Jos Vulto is a bit of a legend in cheese circles. Vulto, who hails from an art background, first started dabbling in cheesemaking while a partner in a Brooklyn metalworking shop. His natural talent was soon tasted by friends and his biggest supporter, his wife Miranda. Vulto met Miranda at PS1 after securing residency to craft sculptures from found objects and metal. The couple had a love of cheese in common, their first date is said to have included a sampling of a stellar washed rind cheese, a style that Vulto is now known for. Before Jos’s went pro and moved his operation upstate he experimented with various aging methods for his cheeses. He even crafted an aging cave in a crawl space in his Williamsburg studio that was under the sidewalk. Not big enough for living space but perfect for cheese.

As the cheese got better and better a plan was made to build an aging and production facility in Walton,NY, a place to craft Jos’s cheese and raise he and Miranda’s son in the country. Sadly while in the building stage Miranda was diagnosed with cancer and passed away in the winter of 2012. After a brief shutdown production began again the following spring and Jos crafter a cheese named after his love, Miranda, a cheese with a love story. Miranda is washed with an absinthe called ‘Meadows of Love’, (also made in Walton) that doesn’t impart the herbal flavors of the spirit yet gives it a beautiful, savory, flavor that hits the sweet spot.

I recently paired Miranda with an unusual dessert wine, also made in NY, that has its own interesting story, Tony’s Jeropiga

NY gem with roots in Portugal.

NY gem with roots in Portugal.

from Clermont Vineyards. Made by Tony Trigo, Jeropigo is a fortified wine with deep roots in Portugal. Clermont may be new to the Hudson Valley wine scene but Tony is well known in local wine circles for quite a few years, attending every winemaking event for a number of years. Clermont is one of the largest and most beautiful tasting rooms in the Hudson Valley and Trigo painstakingly renovated the barns himself with help from friends and family.

All wines are made from grapes grown at Clermont and one very special style of wine is featured. Tony is of Portuguese background and wanted to create a dessert wine from his estate fruit in a unique style rarely seen outside of its native land. Using late harvest Vidal Blance a grape spirit is added to fermenting juice till it reaches 18% ABV. Next the mixture is left to settle for up to a month, and then racked. The result is an exceptional dessert wine with bright, grapey flavor and just the perfect amount of kick. Add some roasted chestnut, the traditional pairing for Jeropiga, a wedge of Miranda, and you have the perfect way to end a meal!

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Filed under cheese pairings, unusual grape varieties, Wine Education

Toast to spring with “The Ring,” a bubbly with a love story

A bubbly with a love story......

A bubbly with a love story……

At a recent bridal event I was asked to find a South African bubbly to start the party. This bubbly called “The Ring” was a huge hit. Tasty, under $25 and a bubbly with a love story behind it makes it the perfect wine to serve at any bridal event, proposal or as a wedding toast! The first vintage was also the first wine made by vintner Philip Jonker, who fell in love as it aged for three years. It was first served at his wedding and christened “The Ring” to celebrate his marriage.

South African sparkling wines made in this traditional bottled fermented method are labelled as Method Cap Classique to comply with European Union regulations protecting the term “Champagne.” This 100% Chardonnay does not disappoint and at this price can be served to brighten any day! Its flavors of golden apple, a tinge of honey and melon make it the perfect wine to toast to warm sunny days ahead. Serve with creamy, bloomy rind cheeses for the perfect pairing.

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Teeling Irish Whiskey and County Cork artisanal cheese; A perfect pairing to enjoy year round

Celtic Whiskey on the Green, Dublin

Celtic Whiskey on the Green, Dublin

A few months ago I made a pilgrimage to Dublin to discover my Irish roots, and taste the famous whiskeys and cheese I’ve read so much about. As I soaked in the wave of luscious liquid made by Irish craft distillers, I nibbled on cheeses transformed from the milk of herds grazing on lush green pastures. Instantly I knew I’d be longing for these gems at home…..

At one time Dublin was home to over thirty-seven distilleries with many in the Liberties area of the city also known as the ‘Golden Triangle’, due to the vast amount of delicious elixir produced in a one mile radius. But, Irish whiskey fell on hard times and the last still ran dry in 1976. That is until Teeling decided to fire up 3 copper pot stills and revive the traditional style of Dublin distillation. Teeling’s facility is located a stones throw from its original Dublin location in the market square known as Newmarket. I had the pleasure of sampling Teeling’s vast range of Irish whiskey at The Celtic Whiskey Shop on the Green (a mecca of Irish whiskey) and wished I could cram more than a few bottles in my suitcase.

As luck would have it Teeling’s has recently launched in NY! I couldn’t wait to enjoy it with another rarity, Irish farmstead cheese. While Kerry Gold may be in almost every supermarket in America artisanal cheese from the Emerald Isle is only available at specialty cheesemongers. Like Irish whiskey Irish cheeses are also going through a long-awaited revival with many farms just starting up production in the last 20 years and many are not exported due to such small amounts being produced.

A tasty array of Irish cheese made from rich cow's milk

A tasty array of Irish cheese made from rich cow’s milk

Whiskey and cheese can be a magical experience but even better when you can taste the passion of a product crafted at small family run farm or distillery! Try the suggested pairings below and you’ll be in Emerald Isle heaven!

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Irish whiskey and cheese, a match made in Emerald Isle heaven!

Teeling Single Grain- 

The fruity notes in this beautiful whiskey melded well with the washed rinds of both Gubbeen and Durrus. Try it with any of your favorite stinky smear rind cheeses and candied pecans for a perfect cheese course.

Recently Awarded World’s Best Grain at the World Whiskies Awards, 2014. This award-winning addition is one of only a handful of Single Grain Bottlings in the world.

It is fully matured in Californian red wine barrels resulting in an intensely fruity and beautifully amber liquid, with lush berry notes.

Teeling Small Batch-

This flagship whiskey paired well with all of the selected cheeses! Also try with your favorite cheddar and a drizzle of honey. My new favorite sipping whiskey!

This small batch bottling consists of hand selected casks which are given further maturation in ex-rum barrels imparting extra character and smooth flavour unique to Irish whiskey. By bottling at 46% with no chill filtration completes an Irish whiskey of true character.

Gubbeen-

Made with pasteurized cow’s milk by Tom and Giana Ferguson in County Cork and distributed by Neal’s Yard Dairy. This soft, washed rind has a pliable texture and a pinkish-orange rind. Full-bodied, earthy, nutty, mushroomy…

Durrus-

This semi-soft, washed rind cheese produced in Jeffa Gill’s dairy is very famous in West Cork as one of the finest artisanal farmhouse cheeses. Made with raw, unpasteurized milk, Durrus has aromas of hay and wet soil and tastes buttery, mild and slightly acidic. Only milk from Friesian herds of two local farmers is used to prepare this Irish delicacy.

Coolea-

This raw milk, Dutch Gouda-style cheese is simply amazing. It has all the nutty, butterscotch-y qualities of Gouda, but made with the rich and floral milk that Ireland is famous for.

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Filed under cheese pairings, irish cheese, Travel, whiskey pairings, Wine Pairing Recipes

Hanky Panky with a Certain Mr.

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The original Hanky Panky was created by the legendary Ada “aka Coley” Coleman while head bartender at the Savoy Hotel’s American Bar in the early 1900s. It’s  pretty amazing to think that a woman held sway over such a fine establishment at a time that only men ruled the roost behind the stick. But rule Coley did, serving drinks to the likes of Mark Twain, the Prince of Wales and Edwardian actor Charles Hawtrey, who inspired the Hanky Panky.

I changed things up a bit by using Mr. Katz Rock & Rye instead of Gin and adding a bit more Fernet Branca then what was called for in the original. The smooth, slightly sweet rye plays well with the vermouth and the herbal notes in the Fernet Branca. A squeeze of orange adds a bit of acidity to lift and brighten.

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In honor of Valentine’s Day (and Ada),  I’m calling this sweet and spicy tipple Hanky Panky, but, with a certain Mr., Katz that is!

Hanky Panky with a Certain Mr.

2 oz. Mr. KATZ rock and rye
2 oz. Cocchi Vermouth
2 bar spoons Fernet Branca
1 squeeze fresh orange wedge
Build over ice in shaker, stir well with spoon and strain into chilled glass. Garnish with orange peel.

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Emidio Pepe Pecorino, Colli Aprutini IGT, 2010; An amazing find in the world of wine!

A delicious grape and a cheese, Pecorino!

A delicious grape and a cheese, Pecorino!

Last weeks predicted Snow-pocalypse had many rushing out to stock up on wines to weather the storm. Frankly Wines in Tribeca was bustling with activity before mass transit shut down for who knew how long! The next day brought about relief and a snow day for many NYers overjoyed that they wouldn’t spend the next few days stuck at home. In celebration this special bottle was opened to sample with customers at Frankly, and I was lucky enough to be there!

I know many associate Pecorino with the world of cheese, but this wine made from the grape of the same name is one of the finest white wines to pass my lips in quite some time! It’s lush, silky texture and concentrated flavors and aromas of apricot marmalade, toasted almond and a touch of sweet spice had me dreaming of sun-kissed vineyards and a walk in the Italian countryside! Pure heaven in a bottle, and a perfect pairing with cheeses of the same name drizzled with orange blossom honey!

Produced in the region of Abruzzo by Emidio Pepe and family the grapes are grown organically on two hectares and crushed delicately by foot  in wooden tubs in order to avoid the contact between the iron presses and the acids of the fruit. The juice then goes into glass-lined cement vats for fermentation, then, after a few months it is transferred to bottle. It ages in the cellar in the bottle for 2-3 years and is carefully hand decanted before release. The 2010 vintage is the first release of this fancy pants wine and hopefully not the last.

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Filed under cheese pairings, Wine and Cheese Pairings, Wine Pairing Recipes