There is no better marriage than wine and cheese (except, perhaps, Neal and me). Add to that one of our favorite wineries and a newly discovered artisan cheese maker and you have the best of the best. Last evening, at Provisions Market Hall at Fifth St. Market in Eugene, we were treated to a wonderful event that brought together the wines of Brooks Winery and the cheeses of Ancient Heritage Dairy for a taste delight.
The space was set up to accommodate about 25 diners, we were fortunate enough to share a table with the marketing team from Marathon Coach, makers of luxury motor coaches and hosts to parties around the country and Brooks’ wine maker, Chris Williams. The group made for great conversation and shared enthusiasm for both the wine and the cheese.
Our first course was Adelle, a bloomy-rind pasteurized cow and sheep’s milk cheese, served with fresh baguette, fresh apple and pear and paired with Amycas White Blend. The cheese is made from a gentle process and was a perfect match for this white blend of Pinot Blanc, Riesling, Pinot Gris, Gewurztraminer and Muscat. This wine has lovely aromatics with a floral note. The cheese was creamy and and mild. What a way to start this cheese and wine journey.
The second course paired a similar cheese, Valentine, with Brooks’ Oak Ridge Gewurztraminer. The cheese, unlike the first, was made with sheep’s milk only. It was an interesting opportunity to experience these similar cheeses, one with a combination of cow and sheep’s milk and the other sheep’s milk only. I found the second cheese to be even creamier, with a delicate taste and great mouth feel. The wine was a perfect foil for this lovely cheese. The accompanying apple normandy bread, thyme jelly and spiced pecans gave us great contrasting flavors that really showed off both the wine and the cheese.
Runaway Red, named after the barrels that fell off the forklift and made an accelerated trip down the hill into the creek during the winemaker’s first harvest, is an affordable pinot noir with rhubarb, sour cherry, pomegranate and cranberry on the nose and bright red plum in the mouth. The tasting notes describes this bottling as pleasant surprises, deep laughter and good friends. I couldn’t agree more. Paired with Hannah, a natural rind raw cow and sheep’s milk cheese, aged for six month, this wine is a red for all occasions.
Heritage raw sheep’s milk cheese, served with dried cherry, hazelnut, endive salad and walnut oil was the perfect vehicle for Rastaban, a single vineyard pinot noir that spent 18 months in French Oak and was bottled in May, 2015. This wine invites you to linger on the nose before embarking on a tasting adventure. Lush cherry, marionberry, huckleberry, white mushrooms, black currant, violet candies are just some of the flavors described by the sommelier Chris Blanchard. The cheese and the endive salad help further illuminate the complexity of this amazing wine.
The final pairing adventure matched Ava, a fresh sheep’s milk cheese with Tethys Late Harvest Riesling. The cheese, a creamy cheese cake-like filling, was served in an almond sable’ crust with a drizzle of chestnut honey and taste of almond brittle. Not usually a sweet Riesling lover, this wine made me think twice about that preference. Because of our temperatures in Oregon, we can’t make Eiswein, but winemakers can freeze the wine to create this amazingly rich wine with hints of apricot and pear, fig and dried flowers, that pairs well with sweet desserts as well as with fatty foods. We are already considering this for our annual Thanksgiving dinner-Riesling event.
This delightful evening was a perfect early start to the coming weekend and reminded us of the great events that are happening all the time in Eugene, our center of the Willamette Valley wine world!