Freshly mown grass, pickle relish, vegetal notes: this is a wonderfully summery cheese. Made in Wisconsin in the style of a clothbound British cheddar, the wheels—made from a 70/30 blend of cow’s and goat’s milk—can be aged anywhere from six months to two years, ever-evolving and becoming more complex.
When Larry Hedrich’s grandparents settled on a Wisconsin farm in the early 1900s, they named the land “Chandoka” after their children: Charmaine, Ann, Donna and Kathy. Larry and his wife Clara moved back to that land in 2012 to expand the cheesemaking business they’d built along with their four children, who all work at LaClare farms today; this cheese is thus named for the land it’s made on. The does raised here have room to exercise and graze on pasture, and are fed whole grains and other foods that goats love.
The Hedrich family began working alongside Chicago-based Standard Market early on in the development of this cheese, with the aim of creating a clothbound-style version of their successful block cheddar that could be aged in Standard Market’s caves. In 2017, following Chandoka's nationwide success, the family built an on-site aging cave devoted to aging the cheese, hiring affineur David Rogers of Standard Market to oversee the aging program. Here, fresh wheels are larded and bound in cloth before being aged for an average of eight months, all the way up to one and a half years.
With an ivory tinge and light-gold paste, texture of Chandoka is dense and toothsome. Flavor is intensely vegetal with notes of butter, lemon, and pasture, while some wheels yield hints of buttermilk, cured meats, cooked carrots and straw.
Pair it with an unfiltered Cabernet Franc, a Côtes du Rhône, or a Sémillon. For beer pairing, try a cider or a saison.