My Itinerary:

CHEESE: SEMI-SOFT CHEESES

 

Semi-soft Cheeses

Cheese overview and Paso Robles wine pairing recommendations courtesy of Zina Miakinkova-Engel of Le Vigne Winery.

Pecorino Pepperoncino Sheep - Rome, Italy

                                              

This creamy, semi-soft sheep’s milk cheese from the countryside of Rome has crushed red pepper added to it. The taste on first bite is sweet and mellow, but the chili hits on the finish. As a cheese on its own, the bright grapefruit of Paso Robles Sauvignon Blanc strikes the perfect balance between the creaminess of the cheese and spiciness of the red pepper. This cheese is easy to use in many Italian or other dishes. As a flavor component to a dish, it works beautifully with Italian varietals such as Barbera or Sangiovese from Paso Robles.

Wine Pairings: Sauvignon Blanc, Barbera or Sangiovese from Paso Robles

Drunken Goat

Goat - Murcia, Spain

 

Spanish cheesemakers from Murcia invented this cheese in 1986 in an attempt to create a distinct regional cheese. The cheesemakers took a traditional local goat cheese and bathed it in the local Doble Pasta red wine for three days. It has been a huge success both commercially and gastronomically and has brought attention and capital to the region. Aged for roughly 75 days, this semi-soft, raw milk cheese has a sweet, smooth flavor. Drunken Goat® is made with the finest milk from the region. The rind is an attractive violet color which contrasts beautifully with the white from the pate of the cheese.  The goatiness of the cheese is balanced wonderfully by the bright citrus from Chardonnays from Paso Robles, whether they are oak-aged or not.

Wine Pairings: Chardonnay from Paso Robles

 

Etorki Sheep - Pays Basque, France

                                              

This fantastic French sheep’s milk cheese hails from the Pyrénées area of the Basque region. Etorki, translates to “origin” from Basque language. The milk used to make this cheese is sourced from local black or red-faced Manech. It takes six gallons of milk to produce one wheel of Etorki. Cheese making in this region has remained nearly unchanged for the last 4,000 years. It requires the cheese to be pulp pressed, but not cooked and slowly matured for a period of three to six months. The smooth, supple and velvety interior is a consistent white with occasional holes. It has a sweet, earthy aroma with caramel flavors released. It is the perfect match for the Basque varietal Tannat, which is a newer, up-and-coming varietal to the Paso Robles region.

Wine Pairings: Tannat from Paso Robles

Big Rock Blue

Cow - California, United States

 

This hand-crafted artisan cheese is made from organic cow milk in Paso Robles, CA. Big Rock Blue has an ivory colored paste laced with brilliant teal veining. With a light pressing, the cheese maintains a curdy texture reminiscent of fudge, making it ideal for towering on a cheese plate or as a crumbly addition to your favorite salad. The Big Rock Blue is mild and approachable yet brimming with hints of fresh butter and salty bacon. It is an ideal selection for Paso Robles’ Port-style wines.

Wine Pairings: Port-style wines from Paso Robles