Saturday, February 14, 2015

Beecher's Flagship Reserve

Happy Valentine's Day cheese lovers!

Whether you're sharing today with your significant other, your family, or your best friends, I wish you all an amazing day filled with lots of love. And what could be greater than adding some cheese into the mix?! Nothing says "I love you" better than a piece of artisan cheese...

Today I'm going to talk about an old favorite that we recently started carrying again at our cheese counter - Beecher's Flagship Reserve.

Cheese: Beecher's Flagship Reserve
Producer: Beecher's Handmade Cheese
Location: Seattle, Washington
Milk: Pasteurized cow's milk
Rennet: Vegetarian

The Flagship Reserve is a clothbound cheese that is aged for over a year in open air. The cloth is continuously rubbed in butter during the ageing process to add more complexity of flavor. You can see in the picture above the cheese is on the dry side in terms of texture, but the taste is anything but. After letting the cheese come to room temperature, I took my first bite... At first it was slightly salty, but as it warmed up in my mouth it developed an earthy, nutty, buttery flavor. It was heavenly.

I had the opportunity to visit Testarossa winery yesterday in Los Gatos and got to try some incredible wines. I knew that I would be writing about the Flagship Reserve, so I went into the tasting trying to find a white and a red that would pair nicely with the cheese, and boy, did I find some good ones! The white wine I chose was the 2013 Sierra Madre Vineyard Chardonnay. I'm not typically a Chardonnay drinker, but this particular one was very fruit forward with only a hint of the oak and butter that I associate with Chardonnay. When paired with the Flagship Reserve, the wine tames the bit of salt in the cheese and brings out a wonderful, buttery flavor. This is an example of a pairing where both the cheese and the wine benefit from each other. The cheese got less salty and more buttery while the wine seemed to be a touch more acidic and bright. Quite a combination.

The red wine that I chose was the 2013 Tondre Grapefield Pinot Noir. I have to say that I absolutely LOVE this Pinot. It's full bodied and slightly tannic while being extremely fruit forward. It is incredibly easy to drink... be warned! When pairing this with the Flagship Reserve, the wine maintained its fruitiness with notes of cranberry and pomegranate and the cheese became earthier and even more toothsome. So tasty!

The Beecher's Flagship Reserve is a very versatile cheese. You can use it in your cooking, shave it on a salad, make macaroni and cheese or just feature it on your cheese plate! You can also use it like I did today and experiment with pairings. I probably would have chosen beer to go with this cheese at first, but since I was heading to a winery, I wanted to find some wines specifically for this cheese and I'm so pleased with what I found! If you'd like to try a sample of the Beecher's Flagship Reserve, swing on by the cheese counter at Whole Foods Market in Los Altos and we'll give you a taste. I'll also point out the Testarossa wines we carry at my store if you're interested. I don't have every wine they make, so if you're in the Los Gatos area, be sure to swing by their tasting room and try some for yourself.

I hope you all have a wonderful Valentine's Day - until next time, eat, drink and be happy!

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