After a long unfulfilling evening of newsletter writing…which means I could not get a word that made any sense to flow from this vacuous dome of mine, that was punctuated by a rather dramatic, “White trash neighbors” moment, I went to bed and hoped that Saturday would be a better day. Saturday was The Wine Country’s 14th anniversary and to celebrate we were doing one of our most beloved tastings, Cheese & Wine Fest. This is an event we normally do once a year is a perennial customer favorite and one of the most labor intensive tastings of the year….well this year, we did two.
Randy had requested that rather than have me pick the cheeses then the wines, (the way this cheese buyer usually does it) that we instead feature wines that had been around since we opened our doors 14 years ago, and pair cheeses with them…a lot harder. I take this shit very seriously, when my name is on it, people show up to see what I think are harmonious pairings, well…I want to get it right. I spent some serious time thinking about texture, flavor and balance and came up with what I thought was a pretty exciting lineup of cheese and wine. Tuesday morning when all my cheeses showed up, my wines were all in stock and ready to go…well, I felt pretty confident that it was to be a very exciting event.
Woke up early Saturday morning, not enough sleep, drama from the night before still spinning through my head, lack of newsletter completion weighing heavy on my mind and feeling a very real longing for something, anything, that would make me feel better, I jumped in the shower and prepared myself to be, “On”. So those of you that have been reading for a long time know that I’m not so much good at the being the center of attention, hate it…really hate it, and this event tends to make people like goo all over me and junk…just was not in the place for it today, very secure in my pairings, thrilled with both the wines and the cheeses but, not really in that, “taking lots of compliments” kind of place.
Got into work early, wanted to get my cheeses up to temperature and get the whites in the fridge, where I felt like I was failing the store by not finishing my newsletter stuff, I wanted to make sure this event went off without a hitch. Got the wines ready and spent the next 4 hours in the kitchen with Merritt cutting and plating cheeses, and hacking crusty bread into bite sized chunks. We sawed and hacked and at 12:55 we had plated our last cheese and were ready to roll, with five minutes to spare. I stepped behind the table and popped the first bottle of Paul Bara Champagne at exactly 1:00….sweaty and out of breath, but I was there and ready to go.
The event was a gigantic success, people were pouring in and out at a rate that made my head spin, halfway through, while my head was down…hands covered in cheese, knife in my hand with the buzz of the crowd pounding in my ears I hear, “Samantha, can you sign for these?” flowers…I was sent the most beautiful bunch of all white flowers, (melting…sweaty and harried but melting) my favorite, clearly sent by someone that loves and knows me very well…timing man, timing was perfect.
I signed for my lovely flowers and jumped right back into the tasting, cutting, pouring, explaining and beaming…I might be shy and junk but I so love it when I get it right, today…felt like I got it so right. The wines were just stupid good, the cheeses were perfectly soft and oozed their luxurious, pungency…perfect, it was perfect, the 120 people in attendance seemed to think so too.
Featured Wines & Cheeses
NV Paul Bara Grand Cru Brut, ($42.99) w/ Roule, (soft cow’s milk cheese with garlic and herbs) the soft, round baked apple fruit in the Paul Bara was a perfect match to the bright, fresh tasting cheese. A very gentle but decadent was to start.
2007 Graville-Lacoste Graves Blanc, ($19.99) w/ Goat Brie, where the first pairing was soft and supple this was nervy and full of tang. The Graves was full of citrus rind, wet stones and flint and once that gooey, albeit simple, goat brie hit the zingy wine it seemed to magnify the flavors and soften the acidity. A good pairing but I would look for a better brie than the one we had.
2008 Honig Sauvignon Blanc, ($14.99) w/ Humboldt Fog, (Goat’s milk cheese) The cheese was the star here and the pairing did work but…the wine, while full of floral, stone fruit, and tropical citrus…seemed to have a bitter finish, the cheese helped but didn’t take it away completely.
2007 Domaine de la Cadette Bourgogne Vezelay Blanc, ($16.99) w/ Brie de Meaux,(Cow’s milk cheese with strong mushroom notes) one of my favorite pairings of the day. The wine is full without being rich, lots of ripe apple of the palate with a hefty amount of chalk and some bright, mouth cleaning acidity…paired with the slightly pungent Brie de Meaux, the wine got even fuller, brighter and the pairing left your mouth with a lovely sweet and savory finish.
2008 Pardo Montefalco Bianco Colle di Giove, ($14.99) w/ Burrata, (Cow’s milk cheese that we drizzled with olive oil and sprinkled with Fleur de Sel) another case where the cheese, (the super gooey, need spoons to get at it, texture took some folks aback a bit) outshone the wine. I loved the wine…plenty of weight and texture, steely, and full of herby flavors and paired with the Burrata it just sang, but damn that cheese is just so wicked delicious it stole the show.
2007 Champalou Cuvee des Fondraux Vouvray, ($19.99) w/ Cave Aged Gruyere, (Cow’s milk cheese) much like the first pairing I went for decadence here. The wine was heavy with soft stone fruit, round and supple on the palate but retained plenty of structure…paired with that intense, nutty, fruity, full of crunchy sweet bits, cheese..damn. Powerful and rich pairing that resonated with the crowd, sold lots of both.
2005 Domaine Goisot Bourgogne Cotes D’Auxerre Corps de Garde, ($23.99) w/ Camembert, (Cow’s milk cheese) this was the pairing that wine people love…it made the wine taste even better and helped us introduce people to a new sexy little Pinot Noir. Light, full of cherries and clay on the palate the wine was lifted by the fatty, rich, almost truffley cheese, beautiful..it was beautiful.
2006 Domaine du Cayron Gigondas, ($23.99) w/ Fontina, (Cow’s milk cheese) this wine drove me insane, the pairing worked in that, “don’t take away from the wine” kind of way. This vintage from Cayron is stupid good, the aromatics are wild, herby and there is this citrus, (like tangerine) rind note that baffles but pulls you into the glass. The mild Fontina did its job, using its fatty texture to cut the acidity in the wine, framed the wild wine perfectly.
2006 Domaine Tempier Bandol, ($41.99) w/ Saint-Marcellin, (Cow’s milk cheese) this was the first time many people had experienced Bandol, not always an easy wine to drink and appreciate so I was thrilled with the way the cheese made the wine a little more friendly. Earthy and full of herbs, cooked berries and meat the wine was softened by the softer-than-butter cheese, something in the mildly funky cheese seemed to tame the wild beast of a wine.
2007 Qupe Central Coast Syrah, ($15.99) w/ Petit Basque, (Sheep’s milk cheese) this is such a red wine friendly cheese, salty and soft in texture but with enough flavor to hold up to big red fruit. The Qupe seemed a bit off to me, not as crunchy or bright as I had hoped, tasty but lacking that snap that I have come to adore about this little offering, no matter…made the cheese taste really good.
Once the event was over I helped wrap the leftovers, count the empty bottles and restock the decimated shelves, ( a clear sign of a very successful event) letting myself marinate in that intoxicating feeling…that, “We did good” feeling. My back was aching with each step, my mind still heavy with, “I have to write” and even though our tasting had been wildly successful…I still felt this longing, this aching for something more. Once home, shoes off, glasses off, jewelry off and after an hour of playing with my adorable little neighbor, I was still plagued by this whole, this, something missing…longing, aching, wanting.
So what more could I want?! Tons of happy, wine soaked, cheese stuffed people telling me I did a good job, showing me as much by buying the wines and cheese I featured, stunning blast of aromatic, breathtaking flowers sent to me, Randy and Dale happy as could be…what?! What more could I possibly want? More….I wanted, still want, more….I want...
A kiss on my neck
Fingers on my back
Fucking unbelievably aromaic Southern Rhone
The best of Provence
The pleasure of skin in my hand
Another glass of Champagne
Love, the ability to express love through the written word. To be able to "touch" people with my words with that same kind of heart pounding intensity that can be had with the brush of skin against skin...to make people feel, want, desire and ultimately, "love" the wines that I write about...
Too much to ask?!
Greedy, I am being greedy and I need to get back to work....