A Wine Lover’s Diary, part 442: Top Cheeses

Monday, April 22: Sad news. My sister Shirley in Montreal called to say her husband Sam died last night. It was a merciful release. The funeral will be on Wednesday, which Deborah and I will attend.

Down to Luma at TIFF to taste the winning cheeses from the 2013 Canadian Cheese Grand Prix. There were 225 entries in 19 categories.


Category Cheese Name Company Description
Fresh Cheese Ricotta Quality Cheese Inc. Ricotta is a soft Italian cheese that is semi-sweet to mild in flavour. It is white and it has a milky aroma and a creamy flavour.
Fresh Cheese with grilling properties Queso Fresco Cheese Latin Foods Inc. White Fresh cheese made from 100% Canadian milk. It is a traditional cheese from Venezuela. Slightly salty taste, smooth and soft texture. Fresco Cheese has a higher melting point than other cheese, which makes it suitable for frying and grilling. Good to prepare finger cheese, Greek Grill Cheese, Grill Sandwich, and Cheese in BBQ.
Soft Cheese with bloomy rind Le Noble Fromagerie Domaine Féodal Inc. Made from pasteurized cow’s milk, this soft cheese with bloomy rind has a light aroma of fresh mushrooms and final notes of butter and almond.
Semi-soft Cheese Tre Stelle Feta Cheese Arla Foods Inc. Feta is practically an institution among Greek-Canadians, who consider a table poorly stocked if it doesn’t contain a plate of this tangy, lively cheese. Feta is stored in brine, which keeps it fresh for months in the refrigerator. White in colour, it ranges in texture from creamy to slightly crumbly.
Washed or mixed rind Cheese (Soft, Semi-soft and Firm) Le Mamirolle Fromagerie Éco-Délices Semi-soft, washed rind cheese with a fruity aroma and supple, smooth texture. Refined flavour with notes of fruit and hazelnut.
Firm Cheese Gunn’s Hill Five Brothers Gunn’s Hill Artisan Cheese Five Brothers is a cow’s milk cheese that combines traits from Gouda and a Swiss variety called Appenzeller. At eight months old it has a firm yet creamy texture and rich diverse flavours with sweeter overtones. Distinctive eyes are scattered throughout the body of the cheese. All of the milk to produce this unique cheese comes from our family dairy farm. It is named after the five Ysselstein brothers, one of whom is the owner and cheese maker at Gunn’s Hill.
Gouda Grizzly Gouda Sylvan Star Cheese Ltd. At one year this Gouda has developed a strong firm texture while remaining very smooth and creamy to the palate. The flavour is a subtle caramel and nut with just the right hint of salty tang.
Swiss-type Cheese Louis D’or 18 months Fromagerie du Presbytère This beautiful 40 kg cheese wheel is remarkable because of its size and flavour. Inspired by the traditional cheese-making know-how from the Jura region, the cheese maker has created this magnificent cheese with its fine, complex flavours, which are already eloquently expressed after nine months of ripening. The Louis D’or cheese gets its name from the Louis D’or farm, which produces the organic milk used to make it. The name of the cheese also refers to the French currency of the same name used under the reign of Louis XIII in 1640.
Mozzarella (Ball, Brick or Cylinder) Tre Stelle Mozzarella Cheese Arla Foods Inc. The origins of the No. 1 cheese in the North American food industry are muddled with time, but we do know that monks in the Italian region of Capua were making versions of it in the Medieval period. In those days, Mozzarella was made with rich buffalo milk. Mozzarella di bufala is still made today, but the milder cow’s milk version now makes up the vast bulk of Mozzarella made around the world.
Blue Cheese (various rinds, with or without veining) Bleu d’Élizabeth Fromagerie du Presbytère Natural rind, blue-veined with a balanced salty flavour. Made with organic farmhouse milk.
Flavoured Cheese with added non-particulate flavouring Applewood Smoked Cheddar Cows Creamery Cows Creamery Applewood Smoked Cheddar is infused with natural applewood smoke to produce a full, smoky flavour that complements our award winning 2 Year Old Cheddar. Our Extra Old Cheddar is smoked slowly over a six hour period using applewood chips. This gives our Cheddar the full, smoky flavour that is deliciously mouthwatering and perfect for cooking or eating on its own.
Flavoured Cheese with added particulate solids and flavouring Raclette de Compton au poivre Fromagerie La Station La Raclette de Compton is a semi-soft farm cheese made with certified organic cow’s milk. Aged for 120 to 150 days, it has a golden, ivory colour with a copper-coloured washed rind. It features a supple, melt-in-your-mouth texture with a buttery, hazelnut flavour.
Mild Cheddar (aged 3 months) L’Ancêtre Organic Mild Cheddar Fromagerie L’Ancêtre Mild organic cheddar cheese made from non-pasteurized milk.
Medium Cheddar (aged 4 to 9 months) Medium Cheddar Maple Dale Cheese Established in 1888 as a dairy co-op and originally know as Zion Cheese Manufacturing, Maple Dale was purchased in 1987 and is now family-run, specializing in cheddar and especially known for their aged cheddars. Natural aging develops the rich texture and mature cheddar taste with a spectrum of nutty, salty and slightly fruity flavours.
Old Cheddar (aged from 9 months to a year) Cheddar 1 year Fromagerie Perron Founded in 1890 by Adéland Perron, four generations have been involved in the cheese making. Made from raw milk and naturally aged for one year, this firm cheese has a nutty flavour.
Aged Cheddar (more than 1 year up to 3 years) Avonlea Clothbound Cheddar Cows Creamery Avonlea Clothbound Cheddar is hand made in the style of the great traditional cheddars from the milk of Holstein Cows in the countryside of Prince Edward Island. It is made with raw milk that is gently heated but not pasteurized to allow beneficial microbes to thrive and give depth of character and flavour. Avonlea Clothbound Cheddar is matured in cellars at 11–12 °C and humidity level of 90% for at least one year. The cloth wrapping of the cheddar wheels allow the cheese to breathe and develop the rich, robust flavours as it matures.
Aged Cheddar (more than 3 years) 5 Year Aged Cheddar The Black River Cheese Company Ltd. Black River has been making cheese in Prince Edward county since 1901 and is one of the few remaining cheese manufacturers operating as a farmer-owned co-operative. This naturally aged 5-year old cheddar is made from fresh thermalized cow’s milk. Guaranteed to wake up your taste buds with that traditional cheddar sharpness and a crumbly texture that is sure to please.
Farmhouse Cheese Grizzly Gouda Sylvan Star Cheese Ltd. At one year, this Gouda has developed a strong firm texture while remaining very smooth and creamy to the palate. The flavour is a subtle caramel and nut with just the right hint of salty tang.
Organic Cheese Bleu d’Élizabeth Fromagerie du Presbytère Natural rind, blue-veined with a balanced salty flavour. Made with organic farmhouse milk.

Interesting that the Grand Champion of all Canadian cheeses made from cow’s milk turned out to be a Ricotta. My favourite was the Bleu d’Elizabeth. In the afternoon I worked on the results of the Ontario Wine Awards. For dinner, braised beef with a bottle of D’Angelo Sette Copa 2007 (a Bordeaux blend of all five varieties – dense purple-ruby colour; spicy, oaky nose of plum and leather; rich cherry and currant flavour with chocolate and licorice notes, nicely balanced (88)).

Tuesday, April 23: Lunch with Liz Gallery and Cathy Martin to discuss arrangements for Grapes For Humanity’s May 9th fund-raiser at The Gardiner Museum, Australia Uncorked. Then in the afternoon down to Union Station to catch the train to Montreal for the funeral of my-brother-in-law Sam tomorrow. Deborah and I are booked into the Chateau Versailles Hotel on Sherbrooke Street, one block west of Guy.

Wednesday, April 24: A gorgeous sunny day in Montreal with the temperature rising to 21°C. After breakfast at the hotel we went for a walk along Sherbrooke Street and then doubled back along Ste. Catherine Street. Taxied to Paperman’s funeral parlour for the service conducted by a female rabbi. She gave a moving eulogy that had us all tearing up. The synagogue was packed with over 300 people, a testament to Sam’s extraordinary ability to make friends and inspire love in those who came in contact with him. We drove to the cemetery on Mt. Royal for the burial, then to my sister Shirley’s condo for lunch. Then the 5 pm VIA Rail train back to Toronto. The food aboard Business Class was very good but the wine left much to be desired (but at least it was Ontario and not some cheap French vin de pays). We were an hour late getting into Union Station because of freight traffic on the line.

Thursday, April 25: Recorded my 680News wine reviews and worked on the auction wines for Grapes For Humanity’s fund-raiser. For dinner, braised beef with a bottle of Villa Maria Private Bin Merlot Cabernet Sauvignon 2011 (deep ruby colour; black raspberry, cedar and tobacco nose; medum-bodied, dry, savoury and lean (87)).

Friday, April 26: Took Pinot to the vet for her annual check-up. She hates going there and barks the whole time. But she took her three shots well and was pleased to be done with it for another year.

Trying to clear my desk for tomorrow’s flight to London for my annual judging stint at the Decanter World Wine Awards. Deborah is joining me this year and while I’m tasting for five days she’ll be sightseeing, shopping and visiting friends.

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