Citrus Ginger BellaVitano
Established in 1939 by Paolo Sartori, Sartori Cheese Company is a fourth generation family owned business based in Plymouth, Wisconsin.
Well known for hard and Italian-style cheeses, the company sources milk from local, family owned farms within a close radius to the production facility. The herd size at each farm averages 75 cows and many of the farms have worked with Sartori for multiple generations. The company also operates an incentive program that encourages each farm to produce the best quality milk possible.
For production of Sartori’s cheeses, the milk is heated, cultures and rennet are added and, once the milk has coagulated, the curd is cut, releasing the whey, which is drained off. The remaining curd is hand-salted and transferred into hoops, then pressed for several hours. Newly formed wheels of cheese are placed in a warm “overnight” room to encourage the expulsion of more whey.
Wheels are then trimmed by hand and placed in a brine bath, which encourages the formation of a rind. After the brine bath, the cheese is moved to a curing room for further maturation. Each variety of cheese is matured for a different length of time. Every batch is tasted at regular intervals during this period and, when they are deemed ready, released for sale.
For the production of some of Sartori’s cheeses, carefully selected wheels are chosen to undergo a third stage of finishing. This last stage involves the application by hand or soaking of a proprietary blend of one of a variety of coatings; in this case, a blend that includes citrus, ginger and sesame.
Exuding aromas of sesame, Citrus Ginger BellaVitano has a colorful orange and black-speckled rind surrounding a smooth, light milky-colored paste. On the palate an initial kick of spice subsides as citrus flavors grow, and the sweet-salty balance and umami flavors remind us a bit of beef jerky. Citrus and ginger flavors, while pronounced closer to the rind, generally play a background role in this cheese. Onion and tomato flavors are surprisingly detectable in the coating, contributing a salsa-like aroma.
Pair Citrus Ginger BellaVitano with a light red wine, a Chardonnay or a Prosecco. For beer pairings, try it with a wheat beer, a cider or a pilsner.