Archive for December, 2011


Wine: Gruet Blanc de Noirs

Gruet Blanc de Noirs

Gruet Blanc de Noirs

I’ve never put a lot of stock, nor interest in wine scores. I find them often to be inflated, biased, or based on random criteria that the consumer has no interest in. Rather, I prefer to choose wines because I enjoy them, and I prefer to sell a wine to you, the customer based on what you tell me you enjoy in the price point that you are comfortable with.

Ideally, I find a wine under $20 that drinks like many over the $50 price point. And every once in a while, we agree with a rating or list- Wine Spectator has listed one of these wines in the top 50 of their top 100 wines for 2011, Gruet Blanc de Noirs…

The rich and toasty character of our Blanc de Noirs is balanced and superb. Aged for two-year minimum, the palate is developed and shows rich complex flavors. The amazing berries aromas and the creamy texture play a leading role and create a great finesse. Winemaker’s Note: A fine salmon color, aggressive mousse and a lovely fruity wine with plenty of immediate charm and toasty aromas. There is also an explosive juicy flavor of raspberry.


Cheese: Roquefort

Roquefort Cheese

Roquefort Cheese

Roquefort comes from the caves of Combalou in southern France, Roquefort, arguably the world’s greatest blue, has had its name and methods protected since 1411! Flavors reminiscent of the cavern air where the cheese ripens and the mold grows naturally transforming the milk from Lacaune Sheep into this devine formage taste treat! This artisanal variety, made in smaller batches with local milk is round, deep and perfectly balanced: big, creamy chunks of the paste dissolve on the palate like sharp, soothing milky lozenges. Sweet and fudgy, its finish is delicately peppery.

While conventional thought says to pair Roquefort with a Sauternes, I prefer a Uni Blanc, or Colombard from the southern Rhone of France for white wine pairings. Red wines are a bit more challenging with Roquefort, but I find a Marsalane from Southern Rhone, or a Spanish Mencia from Bierzo to do well.

For the faint of heart, here’s a dip recipe to make with a Roquefort that will temper the aromas and punch of the blue cheese:

Roquefort Dip

8 ounces Roquefort Cheese at room temperature

8 ounces Sour Cream

8 Ounces Butter

1 tsp dried Dill Weed

1 tbsp fresh, finely chopped chives

Whip the Roquefort until creamy, slowing blending in the Sour Cream and softened butter until smooth and creamy. Fold in the herbs and refrigerate for 3 hours. Serve slightly chilled to room temperature.


The Gift…

We have been fortunate over the years to have hired some wonderful young people to help us in our business ventures. The last few years have revealed the reality of how fortunate we were to have had access to those individuals and how spoiled we became by them being such great staff, friends, and family even.

Kegan, Evan, Will, and Conner live in Philadelphia and remain good friends even as all this time has passed and stay in touch with us. They contacted us a few weeks back to get an address to ship “something” to us for the holidays. While the thought of them being gone for this many years and still remembering and caring about us was enough to soften the hardest of hearts, they were doing more than just thinking- they were acting.

So, anticipation set in. My other half is much like a 4 year old when it comes to anticipation and patience, asking every afternoon if “the package” arrived today. It did not come; instead Kegan and Conner stopped by yesterday to hand deliver the package!

Gift set

Gift set

While the contents of the package Are not products I carry, nor can I legally sell at this point in NC, they are worthy of your knowing about. The wonderful package contained local Philly Products, John & Kira’s Chocolate figs and Penns Woods Winery Lacrima Dolce and the most important aspect was a note remembering fondly working and playing with us.

Now, The Lacrima Dolce is a dessert Merlot with bright red cherry flavors coated in deep rich luscious dark cocoa robed in silk. The figs are injected with dark chocolate ganache and dipped in a deep dark chocolate. This makes for a perfect pairing that is nothing short of a culinary sexual experience… click on the links above to visit their websites and if tempted enough order a tasty treat!

So, while the boxed gift was a bonus, the real gift happens to be the reality that these young people are part of our family. We were proud to have them in our lives and to have been impacted by them in a positive way. We hope we have impacted them and others as positively as they have us.

As the holiday season draws to a close, we hope everyone has had as wonderful a season as we have here in the little village of Blowing Rock this year.



Wine: Nero d’Avola

Nero d'Avola

Nero d'Avola

Nero d’Avola (“Black of Avola” in Italian) is “the most important red wine grape in Sicily” and has an affinity for hot arid climates. It is named after Avola in the far south of Sicily and its wines are compared to New World Shiraz, with sweet tannins and plum or peppery flavors. It also contributes to Marsala blends.

“The Black Grape of Avola” appears to have been selected by growers near Avola (a small town in south east Sicily) several hundred years ago. Initially, it was confined to the southern tip of the island but more recently has spread throughout the island and has become one of the most important indigenous varieties of grape in Italy.

This grape also goes by the name Calabrese. It has made a resurgence in the market as a wine made 100% Nero d’Avola, after having been blended with Syrah, Merlot, and other bold red wines for years.


Tale of a 117 year-aged cheese

I found this article from the New Yorker about the journey of a single piece of cheese…

Say Cheese

by Robert Sullivan

This is the story of a hundred-and-seventeen-year-old piece of cheese. The cheese has lived in an apartment in Brooklyn for the past year. Prior to that, it travelled the world, or more of the world than the average piece of cheese has travelled. The cheese is small—four inches long, one inch high—and it is an orangey-brown color. A person who comes in contact with it might not recognize it as cheese. Its shape more resembles that of a heart or a teardrop, or something that you would want to have a hazmat suit on to touch. Its owner, Clare Burson, a Tennessee-born singer-songwriter by night and a docent at the Tenement Museum by day, is aware that the cheese evokes visceral reactions. When she gives tours at the Tenement Museum, she sometimes cites the decades-old bagel that was discovered in the building when it was renovated, in the nineties, which disgusts people. “You think that’s something?” she then adds. “I have a hundred-and-seventeen-year-old piece of cheese!”

Burson, who is thirty-four, recounted the cheese’s history the other day at her apartment in Cobble Hill, where she lives with her husband, a criminal-defense attorney, and their cat, Kreplach. She carried the cheese carefully from her bedroom to a table in the living room—she is reluctant to travel any greater distance with the cheese. “I worry about it,” she said.

The cheese was a going-away present for Burson’s paternal great-grandfather Charles Wainman (née Yehezkel), upon his emigration from Lithuania, around 1893, to Johannesburg. For reasons lost to history, he never ate the cheese but kept it in a trunk that travelled with him while he worked as a trader among the Zulus, and then when he fought, on the Dutch side, in the Boer Wars. About 1904, the cheese travelled to Memphis, via Leeds, in England, and Galveston, in Texas. Wainman opened a grocery store, and then, after the Great Depression, was a security guard. He died in 1944. The cheese was stored away until 1971, when Burson’s mother discovered it in the old trunk.

Burson first learned of the cheese in 1999. She had just returned from Germany, where she was on a Fulbright, researching identity politics and the Holocaust. (Her maternal grandmother, born in Leipzig in 1919, escaped Germany on the morning of Kristallnacht, and ended up in Memphis.) When Burson returned home to Tennessee, her paternal grandmother, Jojo, presented her with some more history. “Apropos of nothing, Jojo brought out the cheese,” Burson recalled. “She said, ‘Have I ever shown you this? It’s a cheese!’ ”

At that time, the cheese was wrapped in tinfoil and stored in an unmarked envelope. “Every time I went to visit after that, I checked on the cheese,” Burson said.

In 2007, Burson went to Lithuania, hoping to learn more about the history of the cheese—her grandmother knew only that it came from a place she called Pushville. In Vilnius, looking at a pre-Holocaust map, Burson surmised that Pushville was Posvol, which is now Pasvalys. She discovered that no one there spoke English except for a guy at the local agricultural museum. He took her to see the site of the old synagogue, now a housewares store, and then mentioned that one of the town’s main industries is cheese. In a supermarket, she found cheese that looked a lot like her cheese, if it were a hundred and seventeen years younger: it had the same dolloplike shape. The cheese was a fat-fermented variety called Svalia, for the local river. According to a modern producer, it is “a tasteful component of sandwiches” and “goes very well with beer.” Burson bought a small chunk of it, but it did not make it to Tennessee for her family to taste. “I took it back to Riga, and I basically ate cheese and crackers in the hotel room for the next two days,” she said. “It was kind of nutty. It was good.”

When her grandmother died, in 2009, the cheese went to Burson. She flew down from New York to take possession. When she got to the house, the cheese was not in the box on the shelf in the closet where it usually resided—her aunt Linda had put it in the freezer. “I was a little freaked out about it,” she said. The cheese flew back on a Delta flight to LaGuardia. It breezed through security, probably because it smells only when it is close to your face. “It smells like old cheese, stinky feet, that sort of thing,” Burson said. Her husband was fully supportive. “He takes issue with me having a lot of stuff,” she said. “But I wouldn’t exactly call the cheese a tchotchke.”

Last summer, Burson took the cheese on a subway to Manhattan, where Tenement Museum employees helped her seal it in a jar. She feels the cheese is preserved now, which pleases her landlord. But Burson worries that it seems less like a relic and more like something in a lab. “I’m a little conflicted about it,” she said.


Wine Bottle Ceiling Tile Project!

Bottle Cieling

Bottle Cieling

With a Wine Shop, I’m constantly looking a good use for wine bottles that have to be stored for recycling. There are a few obvious projects, but I stumbled across this article highlighting an Argentine Restaurant using them as a ceiling tile to influence acoustics…and finding a use for over 5000 bottles that would otherwise be in the waste stream!




Ginger Restaurant in Buenos Aires, Argentina, caught the eye of TreeHugger’s Paula Alvarado who reported on their use of more than 5,000 wine bottles plucked from the trash and turned into an impressive looking and acoustics-improving ceiling.

Alvarado, who visited the Ginger restaurant, reported that owner, Diego Valentin, is also an engineer who had the idea to build in a lower ceiling below the original with a metal net fitted to accommodate the reused bottles.

Bottles are used throughout the restaurant in different arrangements and in different color schemes; as well, bottle corks find use in the restaurant.

Valentin said the idea for using the wine bottles came because the restaurant was difficult on the ears as sound had been bouncing around because of the high ceilings, but the curved and smooth nature of the bottles helps to contain the sound making it more comfortable for guests to hold conversations over dinner.

In just America alone, we recycle nearly 13 million glass jars and bottles every day, with millions more ending up in landfills. Modern glass bottles are estimated to take at least 4000 years to decompose.

Each ton of glass creates 385 pounds of waste produced from mining and transport of raw materials. When half of the raw materials are substituted with recycled materials, waste is cut by more than 80 percent.

Recycling one glass bottle can save enough energy to run a 100-watt light bulb for four hours and a compact fluorescent bulb would run for 20 hours. Recycled glass reduces air pollution by 20 percent and requires 50 percent less water than making a new bottle from raw materials.


Christopher’s Wine & Cheese Facebook Deal!

Christopher's deal of the day


From time to time, we have an opportunity that should be of benefit to our customers. We are pleased to announce such today, we have agreed to participate in a new facebook program that offers fans of our face book page a deal of the day.

Here’s the deal: follow this link to our facebook page and become a fan. When you’re in Blowing Rock, check into Christopher’s Wine & Cheese through facebook on your smart phone and click on the deal link. That will produce and electronic coupon you can show us for our daily wine flight at $5 rather than the typical $9 charge. If you don’t have a smart phone, still become a fan of the page and ask us about how to get the deal- we’ll make the arrangements for you then!

So, hit us up on facebook and let’s raise a glass to celebrate our time together and build a wine list for you and yours!

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