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31 Cheeses in 31 Days: Day Thirty: Rogue River Blue

2012 American Cheese Month 31 Cheeses in 31 Days: Day Thirty: Rogue River Blue

Cheese: Rogue River Blue

Who: Rogue Creamery

Website: Rogue Creamery

Where: Central Point, Oregon

Milk Type: cow, raw

Texture: soft blue

Rind: wrapped in pear brandy-soaked grape leaves

Shape: 5lb wheel

Flavor: spruce, blackberries, salt, toasted hazelnuts, earthy

2011 ACS Best of Show

“The texture of Rogue River Blue is ethereal… I think Rogue River Blue is unquestionably one of the best blue cheeses made in the United States.”

– Laura Werlin

It’s a challenge to write anything original about a cheese that has neared almost-mythical stature in the US. Rogue Creamery’s history of award-winning cheese dates back decades and now, while no longer owned by the founding-family, the Vella’s, the Creamery only continues to excel in stunning blue cheeses plus more commercially-focused cheddar styles. Appreciating seasonality and rarity in artisan and farmstead cheeses is part of what makes the pursuit of the finest products exciting… and frustrating for some. Every zealous enthusiast has the almost unattainable, the white stag; while Rogue is generally available coast to coast, it is but briefly. For some, chasing  after a bit Rogue means a long line, for others less fortunate, they simply whisper about a cheese they once heard of but have never glimpsed. Rogue in the cheese shop is a heralded, marketed, celebration, but it is also a fleeting acknowledgement of the arrival of Autumn with Winter not far behind. Soon you’ll be heading to the market for a bird, for chestnuts… for many turophiles, the season’s cheese is Rogue River Blue. Can a wood fire, wool, sweaters and Raclette be far behind?

Rogue River Blue is the Creamery’s ne plus ultra. Production is very limited, the season of making limited, the raw milk limited… the price sits at the industry’s current max-pain threshold of $40+ per pound.

RRB has one of the most complex flavor profiles of any blue. Strong to be certain, but not Cabrales strong. Rather than throttling your palate with a stingy, unforgiving sharpness, RRB at first pops your eyes with its initial salvo of flavor, but it recedes quickly leaving a sweetness and tang and passing waves of flavors: nuts, grass, soil, cave, dark berries, salts… all enrobed in a soft, linen-hued cream heavy with the crunch of acid crystals. This year’s Blue strikes me as perhaps even crunchier in this regard than I recall from past seasons.

It’s a beautiful cheese in it’s whole form, wrapped in Carpenter Hill Vineyard Syrah leaves that have been macerated in Clear Creek Pear Brandy.

September marked Rogue River Blue’s 10th Anniversary. Read the journey of making the cheese here:

ROGUE RIVER BLUE AT 10 YEARS

 

And here’s owner David picking leaves for next season’s crop!

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