It’s officially been fall for two weeks; pumpkins and gourds are overflowing in the garden center & the kitchen is churning out delectable soups and lunch specials. Perhaps the most exciting thing about this time (not that we’re biased or anything …) ? Wine & cheese Wednesdays are back, baby.
We’re kicking it off with a real treat of a cheese, Walter Rass’ Challerhocker. This is a fun one because it started somewhat of a cheese Renaissance in Switzerland. The Swiss are particularly known for a sort of Holy Trinity of cheeses: Emmental, Appenzeller, & Gruyere. Rass was already a well established Appenzeller maker when in 2001, his brother-in-law asked him to make a cheese from the milk of a few Jersey cows. Lucky for us he agreed! Challerhocker (say holler-hocker) translates roughly to “sitting in the cellar” which is what these wheels do for at least 10 months. While there, the wheels are washed in Rass’ perfected brine and turned regularly. The result is a deliciously nutty, complex, & fudgy snack that we think pairs perfectly with fall. Challerhocker is a champion of a snack plate to be sure, but it also shines when melted. We’re talking grilled cheese, mac & cheese, fondue, and gratin or any other warm cozy dish you can imagine.
To go with this nutty Swiss surprise we have a dose of California sunshine in a bottle, Enfield’s Citrine Chardonnay. This wine mirrors its gemstone namesake in the glass, offering us all a dose of sparkling light even as the sun begins to set earlier & earlier. Citrine presents a perfect balance of tropical fruit notes with florals on the nose. Whole cluster pressing and malolactic fermentation bring richness and just enough creaminess to each sip, but without sacrificing a healthy dose of acidity and a sweep of minerality. White tea and quince countered by lemon balm and the slightest hint of oak play perfectly with Challerhocker’s sweet nuttiness. The rich malt flavors imparted from the brine wash on the cheese are lifted easily from the palate by Citrine’s juicy salinity. This duo is the perfect pair to usher us into the autumn – levity and depth, savory and floral. It’s the meeting of summer’s end and October’s cozy embrace. Snuggle in and enjoy.