I attended a wine and cheese tasting class last night at Southern Seasons in Chapel Hill with a friend. We had a great time and got to taste wine and eat cheese while learning all about wine and cheese from the Alpine nations of France, Switzerland, Austria, Italy and Germany. The tasting was given by The Brothers Kast who I found out have ties to Michigan. Their father was one of the founders of American Spoon Foods in Traverse City!
Alexander Kast is the Cheesemonger at Southern Seasons and his brother Maximilian Kast is the Wine Director at The Fearrington House. They were both so personable and interesting to listen too. They both spent a lot of time travelling in the Alpine region when they were growing up and had first hand experience with some of the wines and cheeses we were tasting and with the people who made them. I scribbled lots of notes on my class program to help me remember what I liked and why.
The classroom at Southern Seasons is wonderful. A long granite counter in the front of the classroom had overhead mirrors and large video screens. Each seat had a plate of five different cheeses with glasses of the five different wines that they were paired with. My kind of dinner. I enjoyed all five of the cheeses and most of the wines. I volunteered to be the designated driver so I only indulged in a few sips here and there. I will mention the wines but my focus here today is on the cheeses since I really didn’t participate fully in the wine tasting part of the class.
We tasted five cheeses:
1. Caciotta Paesanella, Valsassina, Italy. This one reminded me a lot of Taleggio but with a slightly stronger taste. It’s a washed rind cheese which typically has a strong aroma but actually the cheese tasted much milder than it smelled. Very good. This was paired with Zilliken Saarburger Rausch Rieslin Kabinett 2009, Saarburg, Germany (which was my personal favorite of the night.)
2. Bodensee Butterkase, Amriswill, Switzerland. I really liked this one. I thought it was a nice snacking cheese. It’s called a butter cheese for it’s milder, creamy, buttery flavor and mouth feel. It is made by Daniel Studer and his sons and Alex Kast told us the story about meeting him and that the maker liked to call this one his “breakfast cheese”. This was paired with Chateau d”Auvernier 2010 Neuchatel, Switzerland
3. Marcel Petite Comte, Jura, France. This one was my favorite cheese of the night and it was a very good one at $24.99 a pound. It had been awarded the green label which is the highest possible ranking for Comte based on a twenty point scale. This one had aromas of hazelnuts, fried onions, and pasture, The flavor was nutty, sweet and herbaceous. The photo above shows where a plug of the cheese had been pulled as it was aging and being tested for taste. This one was paired with Bornard Arbois “La Chamade”, Pupillin, France, 2007
4. Spicherhalde Bergkase, Bavaria, Germany. This one was also very nice. It has been made by the Vogel family for the last three generations in Bavaria. The cows graze at 4800 feet in the Allgau Alps. It reminded me of the Comte we tried but had more onion and chive to it. This one was paired with IBY Blaufrankish Classic 2009, Mittleburgenland, Austria. (For the record, my friend liked this wine the best and purchased a couple of bottles to take home.)
5. Chiriboga Blue, Bavaria, Germany. And finally we tasted this beauty. It’s a very creamy (triple creme) blue with minimal bluing. It was made by Arturo Chiriboga who surprisingly is from Equador in South America but lives and makes his wonderful cheese in Bavaria, Germany. The mouth feel on this was was very rich, dense, and buttery. This one was paired with Movia Sauvignon 2007, Brda, Slovenia.
The class was fun and entertaining and it let me experience a variety of wine and cheeses that I would have never picked out on my own. I love learning about new cheeses and wines and especially the stories behind the people who make them. The Brothers Kast was a great class and I am looking forward to their next class which they think will be offered in the Spring. Sign me up.