Many great passions have a meet-cute that becomes crystallized like a firework in the sky, but I don’t remember much about how or when my appetite (in every sense of the word) for cheese developed. I do remember the place I found my first love in cheese, one I list among my all-time favourites and routinely devour: Sartori Balsamic BellaVitano.
I picked it up like any other cube on a sample tray at one of my favourite places to try new cheeses, Algoma Orchards in Bowmanville, Ontario, where I grew up. I visit as often as I can and always earmark a wedge of Balsamic. The last time I went, they were cleaned out. Not a crumble! I’d had Sartori’s Raspberry Ale and Espresso BellaVitanos as well as Balsamic, but had yet to try the Merlot, which they had in stock. Here’s what I found:
Sartori Merlot BellaVitano tasting notes
– Tangy, sweet, rich
– Sweet-sour fruitiness, like currant
– Salty at first bite
– Creamy but firm, slightly crumbly when chilled
– Strong wine taste, especially in the aftertaste – here, you get full-bodied flavour like you’ve swished a dry Merlot around your mouth
– Very slight hints of mould and wax at the rind, along with stronger, more bitter wine taste
All of Sartori’s BellaVitano cheeses are immersed in tantalizingly-pungent liquids and rubs, so it’s no surprise that the Merlot practically oozes wine (if the burgundy rind hadn’t already tipped you off). Saying I loved it seems like such an inevitable result that it feels like saying “Hey, good call on shelving that razor, Tom Selleck.” I mean, it’s wine and cheese. I’d be worried about the implications if I didn’t love it. Really.
That said, it still doesn’t top Balsamic BellaVitano for me. I like my crumbly crystals of fruity tang like I like Bradley Coopers – limitless. In that respect, Balsamic beats Merlot. But damn, wine and cheese, together as one? I’ll be back for more.