Wente Wines Now Served in our Three Cheeses in Three Hours Workshop

Posted on Thursday, March 15, 2018 | By Nicole Easterday |

For the past several years I've been trying to find the right wine to pair with the cheese we make and serve in our classes. Luckily, the fresh chèvre is easy to pair with just about any wine so it was just a matter of finding some I liked from a winemaker I could get behind.

Recently, Wente Family Vineyards invited me to do a private cheesemaking class for their sales team. We got to talking during class and there's nothing like spending time in a room of salespeople at the top of their game. They sent me home with a few bottles as a token of their thanks (I always accept tips in the form of wine) and I absolutely fell in love with the first bottle I opened. I made an appointment right away to do a tasting with my cheese and their wine to find the perfect pairing.

Much to my surprise, Wente, right there in my backyard, perfectly exemplifies the FARMcurious commitment to community, sustainability and quality. Wente Family Vineyards employs 500 people in Livermore (about an hour southeast  of Oakland in the East Bay) and is the country's oldest, continuously operated family-owned winery, founded in 1883. Blending traditional and innovative winemaking practices, the wine draws from nearly 3,000 acres of sustainably farmed estate vineyards to create an outstanding portfolio of fine wines.

I'm excited to share some of my findings with you!

Here are some of the wines you may encounter in our Three Cheeses in Three Hours Workshop (subject to change).

Small Lot Brut - Arroyo Seco, Monterey - When you come into class, we'll welcome you with this classic Brut. Enjoy aromas and flavors of pear and dried apricot with hints of floral, crème brulee and apple. It has nice complexity from the sur lies aging in the Methode Champenoise, and has a refreshing crispness and lingering vanilla cream aftertaste that pairs exceptionally well with the fresh chèvre you'll enjoy upon arrival.

Wente Eric's ChardonnayEric's Chardonnay - Livermore Valley, San Francisco Bay - The second hour of class is greeted by this surprising pair to goat cheese - an unoaked Chardonnay created in a favored style of Fourth Generation Winegrower, Eric Wente. It is clear and bright with medium weight and intriguing minerality. This wine exhibits aromas of lemon zest, green apple, white peach and pineapple with hints of jasmine and mandarin orange. An excellent balance between fruit and acidity make this wine refreshing and delightful with the remaining goat cheese.

Wente Riva Ranch Pinot NoirRiva Ranch Pinot Noir - Arroyo Seco, Monterey - The final hour of class brings a surprise treat in the form of dark chocolate-covered pretzels paired with the fresh chèvre from our morning demonstration. What better companion to dark chocolate than Wente's sexy signature Riva Ranch Pinot Noir which Eric Wente calls "a true and elegant expression of Monterey’s finest grapes". This wine is estate grown, in a single vineyard and showcases beautiful aromas and flavors of cherry and red apple with notes of black tea. The wine’s bright natural acidity gives way to a long, smooth finish which will leave you licking your lips.

Some classes may include the following additions or substitutions.

Goat cheese with dark chocolate covered pretzelsDuring my tastings with the Wente team, I had a bit of a dilemma. I've always done a succession of wines in class from bubbly to white to red and I think it makes a lot of sense to end class with a red wine. In the last hour of class I always pair the fresh chèvre from our demo with red wine and people are amazed by the combo. I was all set to continue on as normal ending with this combo and a pinot.

That said, when we all tasted the dark chocolate and cheese with the Pinot Noir Rosé, some of the air left the room - it was an absolutely divine combination! I didn't feel like I could completely move away from having a red wine since I recognize that may be all some people like (weirdos, amiright?). But...I couldn't not buy this one. Who knows how I'll end up doing it, but bonus points if you end up in a lucky class that gets to try this combo!

Wente Pinot Noir RoséPinot Noir Rosé - Arroyo Seco, Monterey - Wente's 2017 Small Lot Pinot Noir Rosé brings forth welcoming aromatics of fresh strawberry, tropical fruit and floral notes of white roses. Crisp green apple, ruby grapefruit and kiwi all come together on the palate and finish with a bright lingering acidity.

You may be getting the sense now that I have a weakness for wine, cheese and chocolate pairings because guess what happened next. We tried the port with the same chèvre/dark chocolate combo. Wowwwwweeeeeee, mama! Is there anything that doesn't go with chocolate and cheese??? Maybe you'll score and get to taste this in class.

Wente Petit Syrah PortPetit Syrah Port, Livermore Valley - The deep, rich, inky color of this Port is the first hint of the experience to come.  Flavors reminiscent of blackberry pie, ripe black cherries and dark chocolate are complemented by nuances of coffee bean, spice, vanilla bean and a fruit forward mid palate.  This Port was aged for 10 months in European oak barrels.   A wonderful marriage of fruit, oak, and sweetness leads to a long, luscious finish.

 This already amazing class is about to get so much better!