Another Wine and Cheese event at Marty’s Market (http://martysmarket.com/), another sold out crowd – even had an active waitlist for this event! Given the tasty wine and cheese line-up combined with Marty’s Market’s gracious accommodation; I am not surprised this was a popular event. The friendly and engaging atmosphere was typified by the quick offer from our wine-enthusiast friend Jerry P. to help pour and distribute the wines (more than 200 glasses total!), despite the fact that he and his wife came to relax and enjoy the event – I was missing one helper, so Jerry stepping in was certainly appreciated. My Co-Conspirator David “Cheese-ologist” Bennett and I especially enjoyed the intelligent and thoughtful comments from the attendees, even when sometimes disagreeing with one of us! We are looking forward to our Italian tasting on April 18th….
The four tastings below are all wonderful individually, and in some cases the combinations were positively romantic – one person commented that the final combination of Valdeon and Rioja Reserva caused her to want to “make out with someone”! Sounds good doesn’t it!??!
Here they are in the order we tasted:
GARROTXA – Garrotxa is a pressed cheese made from unpasteurized goat’s milk. The cheese is named for the area of Catalonia where it was traditionally made. It has a firm white interior and a natural grey rind. Garrotxa is produced in small, two-pound wheels. Production of this cheese almost completely disappeared until a revival in making it during the 1980’s.
ANNA DE CORDONIU CAVA – From ultra-historic-and-famous Codorniu Cava house in Spain—not far from Barcelona—30% traditional Cava grapes compliment a heavy dose of 70% Chardonnay. The wine is produced using the French “Methode Traditionale”. The light effervescence and delicate flavors provide a satisfying start to any event. (PLCB Code: 33033)
AZEITÃO – Azeitão is a distinctive raw sheeps’s milk cheese that is coagulated with cardoon thistle instead of traditional animal rennet. Azeitão is named for the villaige where it is made in the foothills of the Arribida mountain range in Portugal where sheep feed in lush pastures of grass and herbs. There is a simple farmhouse beauty to this round shaped cheese, and the taste is exquisitely gourmet.
ESPORAO RESERVE WHITE – From Portugal’s Alentejo district, east of Lisbon near the Spanish border, this medium to full bodied white wine is unapologetically rich and full flavored with notes of stone fruits and spice. Blended from indigenous Portuguese grapes, the Esporao Reserve White shows the complexity and sophistication of a fine White Burgundy. (PLCB Code: 45923 $18.99)
ZAMORANO – Zamorano is a hard sheep’s milk cheese very similar to Manchego, but it has a more robust taste and a much smoother texture. The cheese is made in Zamora, Spain, where it is aged 6 months. The cheese is rubbed with olive oil, which results in a brownish rind (whereas Machego is more green, they both have the same zig-zag pattern on the rind). The milk is from 2 breeds of cold weather sheep, the small Churra and the Castilian sheep.
QUINTA DOS MURCAS ASSOBIO – From Portugal’s famous Douro Valley (where Port has been made for past 400 years). This wine has a deep, vibrant red color and the spicy aroma of berries and violet. In the mouth the delicious flavor blend of berry and black cherry envelope the mouth with long persistent finish. (PLCB Code: 38001 $15.49)
VALDEÓN – Queso de Valdeón is wonderful blue cheese from the northeast province of León, Spain. It is wrapped in sycamore maple or chestnut leaves, and is often compared to its sharper cousin, Cabrales. It’s a mixed milk cheese, in that it uses milk from both from cows and goats. I am often asked which cheese is my favorite, and usually this cheese is at the very top of the list. You can pair this cheese with a BIG red, or sometimes it goes equally well with a port.
MARQUÉS DE RISCAL RIOJA RESERVA – From Spain’s most famous wine producing region, the Rioja Valley, this Reserva contains 90% Tempranillo grapes with small amounts of Graciano and Mazuelo to finish the blend. Winemaking includes two years in American Oak casks (possibly some from Pgh Region!) and minimum one year in bottle before distribution. An elegant wine with vanilla and red fruit notes, the finish is full and smooth. (PLCB Code: 6372 $18.99)