You read it right, vintage aged cheese paired with wine as opposed to cheese paired with aged vintage wine! Yes, there are aged vintage cheeses out there worthy of leading the pairing with a select wine. The word vintage indicating the year of production, or the age of the cheese. Tonight we feasted on two select aged cheeses, a 2001 vintage, ten year old cheddar from Sweetwater Valley Farms, and an aged five year old cheddar from Fair Oaks Farms. Both of these cheeses are sourced from large commercial dairy operations that take cheese very seriously. Both offer on-line shopping on the web or have commercial retail centers on main arterial interstate highways.While they may not warrant a long destination trip, they certainly warrant a stop if passing through or in the region.
Sweetwater Valley Farms is located between the towns of Philadelphia and Loudon, in the heart of southeast Tennessee’s dairy-rich Sweetwater Valley, off of Interstate 75 between Chattanooga and the Knoxville - Nashville Highway Interstate 40. Sweetwater Valley Farm cheese is produced in a state-of-the-art facility, but they still preserve the fine art and craft of making cheese in the traditional farmstead manner, controlling the process from cow to consumer.They focus on high-quality cheddar cheeses.
Fair Oak Farms (FOF) is in northwest Indiana on Interstate 65 between Chicago and Indianapolis. One of the largest working dairies in the country FOF is a substantial diversified sustainable dairy farming operation run by five families spanning three generations. They feature the Dairy Adventure family attraction featuring a collection of educational exhibits, a one-of-a-kind 4D movie experience, a world-famous Birthing Barn, and tours of the highly automated working dairy operation.
Of course any quality cheese counter will offer a broad variety of cheeses featuring such selections and many more from America, England, France and beyond.
We enjoyed these cheeses at a gala dinner at Erin & Johnny's featuring bar-b-que ribs, twice baked potatoes, iceberg wedge wedge with feta cheese and blue cheese dressing, followed by a hearty chocolate cake desert. To complement the hearty cheeses, bar-b-que and chocolate we chose one of our favorite regional varietals a Barossa Valley Shiraz from Steve Hoff, vintage 2006. These wines are full bodied, huge forward fruit flavored that go well with bold flavorful foods. We featured this wine in our tasting review May 6, 2011.
92 pts Robert Parker Jr.'s The Wine Advocate (JM) - It is opaque purple-colored with an enticing perfume of smoke, meat, bacon, and blueberry. This leads to a full-bodied, plush, ripe, layered wine with gobs of savory fruit, well concealed tannin, and superior length. This in-your-face Shiraz will drink well for a decade.
91 pts Wine Spectator
Ripe and rich, with deep blackberry, plum and licorice flavors mingling for effect as the finish rolls on, finishing with fine-grained tannins.
Ruby-red. Powerfully scented bouquet of cherry and blueberry preserves, smoked meat and dried flowers. Fleshy dark fruit flavors are weighty and velvety, with fully absorbed tannins and a late-arriving spicy quality. This is all about fruit and is already delicious, but it has the concentration and balance to reward cellaring for a few years.
As you read through our wine tasting journal here on unwindWine, note how often we include artisan cheeses. Next time you're planning a wine tasting, think, even start with cheese!