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Tuesday Tasting: Sartori Cheeses Part II

Each week we taste a sampling of cheeses in our Cambridge office and discuss their flavors, textures, and our general impressions of them. Yum!


Extra-Aged Asiago
Cow’s Milk – Wisconsin

Katherine – This cheese has a buttery sweet mouthfeel and is firm but slightly crumbly. It’s mildly salty and the taste doesn’t linger too long.
Grant – This mild, smooth-textured cheese complements its basic, milky flavor with a background sharpness and a muted tang.
Jessie – With its sharp, tangy aroma, this one had my mouth watering from across the room. It is a bit moist and soft for an aged hard cheese, and was barely crumbly and very pale in color. Of course, this would be great on crusty bread with a nice, cold porter, but cooking with it is really where it’s at. This cheese and pasta would get along so well, they should get married and live happily ever after.
Michele – This is a firm, pale yellow cheese. It is creamy with a tang that fills your mouth while remaining sweet and smooth.
Vanessa – This cheese begins with an airy, delicate mouthfeel. Its texture proves rather crumbly, and as it prances across your taste buds it becomes superbly milky with hints of nuttiness (though the cheese itself is completely sane). Team with olives or a hunk of bread.

Final thought by Jessie:

I couldn’t stop “sampling” repeatedly, addicted to the grassy notes, the nuttiness and the tangy smack.


Bellavitano Gold:
Cow’s Milk – Wisconsin

Vanessa – This mildly aromatic cheese starts off unassumingly but ends on a flavorful note. Do I detect amaretto or hazelnut? Its savory taste is further complimented with crunchy, crystalline pieces that add body.
Katherine – Slightly tangier than the Extra-Aged Asiago, and slightly sweet. The taste lasts nicely on the palate. The texture is firm but not crumbly, and slightly granular.
Grant – The Bellavitano Gold’s solid yet crumbly exterior yields a milder cheese with a minor, rounded sharpness and a hint of vinegary sourness.
Jessie – The yeasty smell wafting from this cheese was heavenly, reminiscent of freshly baking bread. I loved the way the cheese tasted initially very much like a Parm but then finished more like a Gruyere. The nuttiness, combined with a final Swiss-like punch, make this cheese very, very hard to put down. If this “gold” cheese were a Golden Girl, it’d be Sophia: aged, punchy, and absolutely lovable.
Michele – This cheese is firm but moist and light yellow in color. The sweet, crunchy bits are reminiscent of a parmesan with a soft, creamy texture that mellows out the full-mouth flavor.
Amy – The Bellavitano Gold has a fudge texture studded with little crunchy bits throughout. It’s salty, rich, and slightly sharp. This is what I envision you’d get if a sharp, aged cheddar and a wheel of parmesan had a baby.

Final thought by Vanessa:

This cheese boasts a smooth conclusion with a wallop of buttery creaminess.


Parmesan:
Cow’s Milk – Wisconsin

Amy – The first thing I noticed was how the cheese crumbled in sheets like slate when I cut into it. It has a definite aged flavor, with a slight mustiness, but it’s not as dry as many parmesans. I enjoyed its earthiness.
Vanessa – This cheese delights with its firm yet flaky texture, crystalline clusters, and dulcet finish. Couple with fresh fruit or a sultry Pinot Noir.
Katherine – Moisture beaded to the surface of this cheese. It has a sweet, musty smell, and crystallization throughout.
Grant – Pliable and soft, waxy with a subtle pep, this Parmesan is milder than I expected for this kind of cheese, yet never downplays its acute notes.
Jessie – This parmesan is aggressively full-bodied and toothy, with a texture at once smooth and crystalline. Nuttiness, hay, sweetness: all the classic flavors are here, made bigger and better by this powerfully tasty cheese.

Final thought by Katherine:

It has a dusky deep tang that rounds out the cheese quit nicely.


Bellavitano Raspberry:
Cow’s Milk – Wisconsin

Michele – This is a pale yellow, creamy, crumbly cheese with a very modest fruit aroma. The raspberry flavor is not very present at all. The raspberry flavor is a bit overshadowed by a tangy, unctuous cheese taste that goes pleasantly with the occasional crunchy bits of crystallization. When eating the rind, the fruity taste comes through in bright, floral note, but even then it is not very assertive.
Amy – Salty and tart, this cheese is quite yummy once you recover from the punch-in-the-face intensity of flavor. While I can’t say that the fruitiness and sweetness of raspberry comes through, the lovely pink rind and berry-tartness would balance out a cheese plate with mild or aged cheeses.
Vanessa – This cheese exhibits a surprising brininess on the tongue. Though it has a fruity tang, its nature intimates wine or ale rather than berry. It’s a well-rounded cheese, as it also sports those crystalline crispy bits. This cheese would mingle perfectly with dark chocolate.
Katherine – Tart and slightly nutty, like biting down on a berry seed. Salty with a slight crunch of crystals, with a light pink blushed rind. Slightly more moist than the Bellavitano Gold.
Grant – This mild cheese nicely strikes out into raspberry territory without letting the fruit overpower the palate, betraying just a hint of the Raspberry Tart Ale. The taste is quickly overtaken by a full, salty tang that gradually fades away.
Jessie – Though this pink-rinded Bella Vitano has been soaked in Raspberry Tart Ale, I didn’t detect a whole lot of berry-ness. A sweet fruity fragrance was enhanced by yeasty notes owing. Texturally, it made sense; its large, grainy crystals were reminiscent of biting into the seed pockets within a raspberry. The cheese tasted of pleasant, floral nectar. Though I wouldn’t go giving it the Very Berry Award, I’d definitely serve this to a crowd or at a picnic—it’s a sure people pleaser.

Final thought by Grant:

This mild cheese nicely strikes out into raspberry territory without letting the fruit overpower the palate.


Bellavitano Balsamic:
Cow’s Milk – Wisconsin

Grant – The Bellavitano Balsamic features some fruity tones in a very different way from Raspberry—the Balsamic imbues the cheese with a cherry-like fullness without playing up its vinegar qualities.
Jessie – The already-heady cheese is given a bath of Modena balsamic vinegar, resulting in a brown-purple rind and a grape-y aroma. The pop of vinegar opens your pores immediately, too. Surprisingly, the effect of the vinegar on the cheese’s inner layers is faint, but it’s definitely there. It draws out the fruity, salty notes and makes them sing on the tongue just a moment longer. The vinegar-cloaked rind is a concentrated version of the cheese itself: Heavenly.
Michele – This a firm cheese that is dull yellowish-white in color. The tang is subtle with an underlying sweetness. The rind carries a muted woody, tobacco note.
Amy – Slightly sweet, earthy, and tangy. This is the only one of the flavored Bellavitanos where the flavoring on the rind seemed to really penetrate into the body of the cheese. It’s dark and almost wine-y in flavor and there is a lingering vinegar taste that remains once the cheese is gone.
Vanessa – This cheese makes quite an entrance as it wafts into your nose and perches on your palate. Though it has a slight bite to it, any overwhelming acidity is counterbalanced with a subtle sweetness. This cheese goes out like a lamb with a pleasant, gentle feel. Enjoy with dried fruit or glazed nuts.
Katherine – Unlike the Bellavitano Raspberry, where the color of the flavoring is only on the rind, the Balsamic’s interior is darker, yellow and firm. It has a sharp, bracing taste and smells of vinegar and is slightly astringent.

Final thought by Jessie:

If regular reserved Bellavito is Gold, the Balsamic Bellavito is platinum.


Bellavitano Merlot:
Cow’s Milk – Wisconsin

Katherine – The Bellavitano Merlot has a sweet, smooth flavor and a deep purple rind. It is tangy with a creamy consistency.
Jessie – Wait…how about we just put the wine in the cheese? Brilliant! Even Miles from Sideways would have been down with this Merlot. The sweet grapiness of the wine in the rind smells like a freshly-popped cork. The creamy, velvety texture and divine fruitiness make me hope that this cheese never goes to AA.
Michele – This cheese is firm yet creamy and pale yellow in color. The merlot is apparent in both scent and taste. The firm presence of the merlot works well with the cheese’s tangy flavor.
Amy – I found this cheese to be very similar to the balsamic, but a bit more mild and fruity, with less vinegar in the finish.
Vanessa – The fumes from this cheese may cause temporary lightheadedness. Its richness solidifies its status as a great dessert cheese or a scrumptious addition to your cheese plate.
Grant – While many of these flavored Bellavitanos minimize their infuser, this cheese straightforwardly asserts its Merlot qualities with a big, front-of-the-palate zing and strong wine aftertaste.

Final thought by Vanessa:

Not suitable for minors, it’s an action-packed display of velvety flavors, with insinuations of blackberry.


Asiago Rosemary:
Cow’s Milk – Wisconsin

Vanessa – This herbaceous cheese begins chastely before it crescendos into a slightly more robust flavor. Its lush temperament is ornamented with whispers of nuttiness, but the rosemary dominates. Pair this cheese with a cluster of red grapes.
Katherine – Strong herbal flavor and smell in the rind with a mellow and smooth taste in the paste of the cheese. Surprisingly little salt taste. There’s also a waxy texture that sticks to your teeth.
Grant – A more pungent, herbal smell misdirects from this Asiago’s mellow, grassier tones. The cheese just begins to approach a pointed sharpness before gently backing off, and though the rosemary only lightly permeates the body of the cheese, it really comes through in the rind.
Jessie – Tasting this herbaceous, supple cheese is like being on a white stucco-ed balcony overlooking the Mediterranean, taking in the breezes and brine of the ocean. A great blend of aged cheese and fresh characteristics, this asiago is summery and lush like a mini-vacation. Rosemary lovers will go ga-ga over the strong herbal presence, heightened by flavors of lemon and olive.
Michele – The cheese is firm and yellowish-white with a rind coated with rosemary leaves. The herbaceous scent is definitely present and it provides a refreshing, floral taste to the cheese. The cheese itself has a delicate, mild flavor, which is complemented by the rosemary.
Amy – The rosemary on the outside of the cheese works really well with the deep, mellow asiago flavor of the interior. it has a rich and resonant flavor with piney, floral, buttery, and earthy notes.

Final thought by Michele:

The herbaceous scent is definitely present and it provides a refreshing, floral taste to the cheese.


Gorgonzola Dolce:
Cow’s Milk – Wisconsin

Amy – This is a stoooong blue cheese. It’s spicy with lots of blue flavor (it actually made my eyes water at first!) This is a cheese that will not be picked on by anyone.
Vanessa – This cheese (in my opinion) is like tasting the cow itself. Though it has a barnyardy flavor and strong scent, it dissolves into gooey goodness upon first taste. Its spreadable texture would excel on a juicy, fire-grilled burger with all the trappings.
Katherine – This strikingly veined cheese filled my nose and had a strong and acidic flavor. There was a salty crunch to it and it coated my mouth.
Grant – As a big fan of strong blue cheeses, this gorgonzola hits all the right notes for me—I appreciated the dual, low-and-high symmetry of the spicy ping and the creamy texture, and the sharp, back-of-the-mouth aftertaste makes sure you never forget. I whipped up a dressing with a leftover chunk to top an iceberg wedge, and the fresh, crisp lettuce paired perfectly with this bold cheese.
Jessie – It’s quite strong, even among its class. It builds innocently enough, but then turns acidic and leaves, taking most of the moisture in your mouth with it. The tangy blue and soft, creamy white are sure to ring true with “Zola-nites”, and small chunks of this alongside some spiced pecans in a spinach salad will win over some laypeople, too.
Michele – The appearance is creamy with dark blue-green veins running throughout it. The luscious consistency of the cheese itself provides an interesting contrast against its astringent, almost medicinal flavor. It will leave your mouth feeling like you just took a swig of unflavored Listerine, but in the best possible way.

Final thought by Jessie:

If you’re a diehard fan of Gorgonzola, this is your cheese.

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