As a member of a large family of cheeseheads and Packers fans, it was a no brainer when Hannah reached out to me on behalf of Sartori Cheese and asked if I’d be interested in reviewing a few samples. The fourth-generation, family owned and operated company out of Plymouth, Wisconsin has a great story and a farm-to-fork philosophy, using milk from local farms that is 100% rBST free.
Choosing just five cheeses from their extensive product line was tough! Ultimately, I went with four of their reserve cheeses and one of their classic varieties:
I recruited Bobby to help with the testing. Each cheese comes with a food and beverage suggestion, so I thought it’d be fun to try the various pairings together. It was also an opportunity to test out the awesome World Market slate cheese board we recently received from Monica and Patrick!
This Asiago is aged for at least six months and hand-rubbed with basil and extra-virgin olive oil. We paired ours with an American wheat beer and a handful of pistachios. Bobby and I both thought the cheese had a strong and pleasant basil flavor. It was pretty much a melt-in-your-mouth experience, and the texture was smooth. I think this would taste great shaved over a salad or pasta. It was definitely one of my favorites from the bunch.
This one was Bobby’s favorite – he said the flavor reminded him of pizza. I could definitely see what he was talking about, but overall the Fontina had a much more mild taste than the Asiago. It has a creamy texture and is made with a blend of garlic, thyme, olive oil and Aleppo pepper. We paired it with the same beer and nut combination.
Next we moved on to a wine pairing. I know typically you’re supposed to move from whites to reds, but we like to break the rules. Plus, the Merlot aspect of this cheese kept calling to me – I think it was because Chelsea told me it was her favorite!
Not surprisingly, Merlot was what we paired it with. The thing we immediately noticed about this cheese was that it was, for lack of a better term, crunchy. It still sliced like normal cheese, but had a unique grit to it that I later found out are calcium crystals (calcium lactate), which appear as part of the aging process. It may sound strange written out, but I absolutely loved the taste. It was a blend of crunch and creaminess, and the berry flavors from the wine permeated every bite.
We followed up the Merlot with the Gold BellaVitano, a Sartori-family original that is a celebrated gold-medal award winner. And I can see why! It’s another creamy cheese with a nutty, fruity flavor and hint of calcium crunch. According to the company website, this cheese was inspired by traditional Italian farmstead cheese. It “begins in the mouth like a premium Parmesan and finishes in award-winning style with hints of melted butter.” Although there weren’t any added herbs or ingredients in this one, the cheese flavors alone are enough to please the palate.
I saved the Montamoré for the end partly because it was the only cheese from the classic line, and partly because it had a description that made me think I would definitely be saving the best for last:
“Like a new romance, this sweet, creamy and fruity cheese begins with a deliciously inviting appearance and finishes with a playful, tangy bite. It is named with deep affection for the gorgeous Dolomite mountains that tower with breathtaking beauty above the Sartori hometown of Valdastico, Italy. Prepare to fall in love.”
Pretty fantastic, right? We were definitely in love with this cheese. It was by far the crumbliest when slicing, so I think it would go really well on top of salads or pastas, too. It paired nicely with our white wine and inspired us to reminisce for a while about our trip to Italy (almost a year ago now, which is just crazy). Definitely a winner.
The best news is that as of 2007, Sartori Cheese is now available in retail stores. Now that I am fresh out of all five samples – cheese disappears pretty fast in this house – I’m definitely going to pay a visit to Whole Foods to see what varieties they offer in Arizona.
I encourage you to do the same, especially if you’re a cheese nut like me!
And while we’re at it, how about a giveaway? The team has offered to give one Eating Bender reader five Sartori cheese wedges of your choice! To enter, check out the Rafflecopter giveaway below and leave a comment letting me know which cheese varieties you’d most like to try. Earn extra entries by following Sartori on Facebook and Twitter or tweeting about the giveaway, which runs through Wednesday, March 26.
Edited to add: We have a winner! Congrats to Misty B. Please send your mailing address and five cheese wedge choices to me at firstname.lastname@example.org!
Big thanks to Sartori for the great opportunity – you can officially call me a huge fan.