Good evening everyone!
Today I was fortunate enough to grab a wheel of the award winning Winnimere from the Cellars at Jasper Hill from the cheese counter at the Los Altos Whole Foods... This particular wheel is very special in that it was made exclusively for Whole Foods Market and is washed with Deschutes Brewery's Black Butte Porter. The wheels that were available were ripe and totally ready to eat. I brought the wheel over to a friend's house while my girlfriend brought a bottle of Petit Verdot and we indulged... I'm literally in a food coma as I type (apologies for any typos! haha).
Producers: Mateo and Andy Kehler at Cellars at Jasper Hill
Location: Greensboro, VT
Milk: Raw Ayshire cow's milk
Rennet: Traditional (animal)
I was so excited when I found out that the Winnimere had finally made it out to California. It only comes out around this time of year since it is made with the high fat, high protein milk of the cows during their winter diet. Since the milk they use is raw, they have to wait 60 days in order to sell it, so we typically start to see this cheese around January through the Spring.
As I unwrapped this beauty, it was barely able to hold its own shape because it was so soft. I laid it down and gently removed the top rind. The paste was so luscious and smooth, I could hardly resist dipping my finger in. You immediately smell the funk and barnyard from the washed rind. The flavors, once I dig in, are meaty, brothy, yeasty and woodsy. There are barnyard flavors closer to the spruce bark around the edges, and delicious funk all the way through.
The pairing with the Petit Verdot was quite nice. The flavors were a good balance, but I felt the cheese slightly overpowered the wine. I will definitely look for a heartier red for the next time I eat this cheese. Belgians and other yeasty beers would go very nicely as well.
I must warn you that this cheese is not for the faint of heart. First of all, it's definitely one of the more potent cheeses available and it's in a rather large format (1.5 pounds). I wouldn't recommend sitting and eating the whole wheel yourself, so be sure to have some people over. The cheesemongers behind the counters at Whole Foods can definitely cut this cheese down to size for you, but I have to say that the absolute BEST way to eat this cheese is in the whole form. The minute you cut down the cheese, you start to see flavors and the life of the cheese fade away.
I hope you are all able to experience this fantastic cheese! Until next time, eat, drink and be happy!