Merlot cheese
Flavour of the month, Pairings, Profiles

Flavour of the month: Sartori Merlot BellaVitano

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

Merlot cheese

The rind’s looking worse for wear after inheriting the pattern of the wrapping in my fridge, but look at that colour.

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.



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