Charleston Artisan Cheesehouse crafts and ages a range of cheeses on location in Charleston, South Carolina. Since 2014 the creamery has been owned by chefs Greg Tatis and Monica Jaramillo, who specialize in recipe development and cheesemaking, as well as by Pete and Heather Holmes, who specialize in sales and marketing. The four owners strive to create wholesome cheeses that inspire the joy of eating locally produced, artisanal foods. The cultures used in production are chosen to create cheeses with taste and quality characteristics comparable to raw/thermized milk cheeses.
Milk used in production of the cheeses is sourced from Hickory Hill Milk, which has been owned and operated by Watson Dorn and his family the same land for 20 generations. Cows graze freely on pasture for 18 hours a day, and antibiotics are never added to feed. Milk is hormone free and non-homogenized, and pasteurization is performed at a low temperature in an effort to maintain as many of the milk’s natural enzymes as possible.
Chardonnay Wash is an aged version of Charleston Cheesehouse’s flagship Battery Park, originally inspired by the successful pairing of that cheese with chardonnay. The production process for the cheese is completely done by hand, from pouring the milk into the vat, to molding, flipping, wrapping and labeling.
While Chardonnay Wash begins as a bloomy-rind cheese, it’s aged quite differently from Battery Park and Charleston Cheesehouse’s other cheeses, in a drier environment. During the beginning of the ripening stage, the cheese is washed in chardonnay and rotated every other day. As a result the cheese develops quite differently during eight weeks of affinage, becoming much more firm with a less visible white surface. Because of its dryness and firmness, one might think that it was a pressed cheese, but it’s not; molds are simply filled with curds, left to rest and periodically flipped.
Flaky and crumbly with a dry surface, Chardonnay Wash has a yellow-white paste and a subtle dusting of white fuzzy mold on the rind. Flavor is mild and a bit salty, reminiscent of a goat’s milk Asiago. Aromas of orange zest, butter, oak and toasted pecans can be detected.
Pair this cheese with its most obvious companion: a chardonnay.