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Archive for June, 2008

On my last visit to Wisconsin, I went out to see the Saxon Creamery. The creamery is located in Cleveland, Wisconsin. It was started by the Klessig and Heimerl families, who brought in Neville McNaughton, Pat Knowles and Dan Strongin as consultants.

Not only do I love cheese, but I grew up in Cleveland and went to grade school with the Klessigs, so I was very interested and excited to try their cheese.

After 15 years of planning, the first milk was delivered and a vat of cheese was made on August 24, 2007. I had some of the cheese during the winter holiday — and they are now ramping up for national distribution. Look for their cheese at Whole Foods in the DC area in July — and they will be rolling out nationally in the coming 6 months.

They have 3 core cheeses — Green Fields, Big Eds and Saxony. I have only tasted the prototypes, they were all delicious and are worth seeking out. You can contact the creamery at their website to get additional information about where to purchase their cheese.

Green Fields
A semi-soft cheese that is carefully tended then wrapped in a special breathable paper to protect Green Field’s sophisticated flavor during the journey from our creamery to you. Made from whole raw cow’s milk, and unpressed cooked curds, with a washed rind ripened a minimum of 60 days — at its peak at four months with a shelf life of six months.

Big Eds
Young, mild, but full of flavor, with a buttery body. Enthusiastic, like Ed Klessig, whom it was named after, it hugs you back, never offends, and is great both for first time tasters and afficionados.

A “clean rind” cheese made from raw cow’s milk formed into cooked, pressed curds and ripened 120 days, with a shelf life of six months — clean rind cheeses are meticulously wiped to keep them clean, cultivating a nearly perfect rind.

Saxony

A sophisticated cheese with a nutty flavor and a supple-body, as comfortable in the kitchen as it is on the table. Cooked pressed curds from whole raw cow’s milk with a light, dry, washed rind ripened a minimum of 90 days, peaking at 150, with a shelf life of 9 months.

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This wine is produced by Garretson Wine Company. Garetson was founded by Mat Garretson. Mat moved to the Paso Robles area from Atlanta in 1993 and started the GWC in 1997. He had previously founded the Viognier Guild in 1991, which evolved into the Hospice du Rhône.

Some have credited Garretson as The Man Behind the California Rhône Revolution, but I would note that there are some individuals (Randall Grahm, Steve Edmunds) that have been around a bit longer, but Garetson has been an advocate of Rhône varietals since the early 90s.

The Aisling (pronounced ‘ASH-ling’) comes from a Gaelic word that means ‘dream’ or ‘vision’ — it is a bit different from Garretson’s other syrah (“The Craic”). The Aisling is his new world syrah. I have had some of Mat’s wines and I did like them, but I was a bit skeptical reading the description of the Aisling — his new world syrah…..but it was on sale and at the price it was worth getting a couple of bottles to check out.

Some plum, pomegranate, earth and port-like components on the nose. Some kirsch, dark cherry and plum on the palate, with some pepper, citrus, and raisin characteristics. Very ripe, forward and a bit hot at 15.2% alcohol.

I think this retails at more than $20. It was a decent deal on sale ($12 at Wine Exchange) — and those that like big, extracted and jammy Aussie Shiraz might like it. Not my usual reaction to Garretson’s wines, but this doesn’t seem to be in step with a lot of his other wines.

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The Phone Call

I have been looking for a certain syrah — a syrah that the winemaker contends is the best syrah he has ever made. I have enjoyed his wines for many years and I really wanted a couple of bottles if he says it is the best he ever put in a bottle.

It turned out to be one of those rare instances where wine-searcher.com and google both failed to produce any results.I did find it at one online merchant, only to find out that it was actually out of stock. An email to their distributor in the area didn’t produce any leads either.

I finally decided to call the winery. I won’t disclose any names as I am not sure if they even should be shipping wine to me (I’m probably being overly cautious and paranoid)….but the call went something like this:

Ring, ring, ring, ring…..

Winery: Hello.

Me: Um, is this xxxxxxx xx xxxx?

Winery: Yes.

Me: I was wondering if you did direct sales?

Winery: Sometimes that can be arranged.

Me: I have been trying to track down some 2005 xxxxxxxx Syrah.

Winery: Have you checked with distributor x, they distribute our wine in your area.

Me: Yes, and I looked online — I can’t find it anywhere and I would love to find some. Do you still have any at the winery.

Winery: Yes. Where would we be shipping it to?

Me: DC.

Winery: Can I have your phone number and I will call you back…..I need to confirm shipping cost.

5 long minutes pass……..

Ring..

Me: Hello?!?!

Winery: Is this Tom? This is xxxxx xxxxxxx (enter name of winemaker and owner).

Me: Hi xxxxx!

Winery: I can ship it to you. Can you send me a check?

Me: Sure, no credit card?

Winery: I don’t have a merchant account.

Me: OK, check it is…..

The rest of the conversation was just about logistics. It made my day and was a happy ending to my search — it is also nice to know that there are still wineries out there where the owner answers the phone, takes great care and attention to an inquiry and makes a little wine dream come true.

I am a huge fan of great customer service — and the charm of doing business the old fashioned way. I am an even bigger fan of the winery than I was before — and they were already on my short list.

Just another story detailing another one of the many great people in the wine business. Sure, there some bad grapes, but I have met so many wonderful people as a result of my interest in wine — not to mention the wines! My latest find will be such a great addition to the treasure chest…..

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Phillips Hill produces limited production Pinot Noirs from Anderson Valley & Comptche in Mendocino County, California. I have been excited to open this bottle for quite a while given that their wines have been getting quite a bit of attention.

The Toulouse pinot is beautiful, dark cherry in color — though I can easily see my fingers through the glass (as I would expect with a pinot).

Good pinot aromatics of black cherry (with a bit of stewed rhubarb), spice and some pepper. On the palate, fleshy with loads of raspberry (it is actually framboise-like) with lots of pepper, some cherry cola and leather.

Great silky mouthfeel and acidity. The pepper really lingers in the finish (I might have mistaken this for a grenache). The alcohol is listed at 14.5% and the heat does hit me and lends itself to some slight cough syrup characteristics.

For pairing with food, I would serve this with some of the heavier dishes or darker meat given the wine’s substance. Pork tenderloin, duck — and it would easily stand up to a steak as well.

150 cases produced. I know there are many that think this is a great pinot and while I wouldn’t disagree, it isn’t exactly my style — and I think there are better pinots for the price.

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You might be surprised to find me writing about beer. It certainly wasn’t my intention when I started this blog. But I poured a glass of this beer after arriving home after a long walk this evening, and felt compelled to write about it given that I enjoyed the beer as much as my walk.

“1809” is a very traditional interpretation of the “Berliner Style” Weisse brewed by Brauerei Weihenstephan. It is characterized by an intense blend of tartness and complex fruitiness. The beer is made with 50% Pilsner malt and 50% Wheat. It is bottle-conditioned, unfiltered and unpasteurized.

Cloudy, golden yellow in color. Sour citrus aromatics with a touch of wheat. Tart and sour lemon with some tropical fruits (pineapple, kiwi and orange), a bit of sweetness and some grassy characteristics. Light in body, good acidity, well carbonated and more refreshing than a glass of lemonade. This could end up being my favorite beer of the summer and it is only June.

The decision to buy this again will not require any thought — all around this is a wonderful beer and a perfect summer seasonal.

The beer’s suggested retail is $5 for a 16.9 oz bottle and is listed at 5% alcohol. Recommended.

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