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American Cheese in Italy: Rogue River Blue

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Hi Cheeselovers!

For the next 5 blogs, I will be describing the cheeses that we will be exhibiting at Bra. For those that are attending, our Atlanta Foods International booth numbers are B139 and B140, next to the Neal’s Yard Dairy booth. Please come visit us!

Cheese #1: Rogue Creamery’s Rogue River Blue

When I say cheese #1, this isn’t just a convenient numerical device, or my personal opinion, it’s the fact, jack. Best in Show at the 2009 American Cheese Society Awards last month in Austin, Rogue River Blue took home the blue ribbon! Here’s the RRB story in their own words, they say it best:

This hand crafted raw cow’s milk, blue veined cheese develops a beautiful natural rind as a result of hand turning and tending the cheese several times a week. The wheels are aged for up to a year in our special rooms, which were constructed to simulate the ancient caves in Roquefort, France. This aging process imparts into the cheese naturally occurring molds that we consider to be our signature Rogue River Valley Terroir. The flavors of our terroir include hints of sweet woodsy pine, wild ripened berries, hazelnuts, morels and pears. To preserve this cheese we hand wrap each wheel in grape leaves harvested from Carpenter Hill Vineyards in the Rogue River Valley. These leaves have been macerated in Clear Creek’s Pear Brandy and tied with raffia. The grape leaves add additional complexity to the terroir driven flavors of the cheese and preserve its moist creamy texture.

Other awards include Best Blue cheese at the World Cheese Awards in London in 2003, and in September 2008, named one of the World’s 100 Best Cheeses by Wine Spectator. Rogue River Blue also holds a place on the very selective and prestigious “Cheeses Saxon Can’t Live Without” list. What’s really cool about Rogue is that they take tradition and add their own twist. While many in the US lament the lack of a Name Protection system as for European cheeses, David Gremmels of Rogue has convinced me that it’s not a bad thing—it’s a license to be more creative! Take the lessons of tradition, and make it your own. I like that. And that’s what makes a #1 cheese.


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