Grafton Bismark is a newer cheese from Grafton Village cheese and cheesemakers Dane Huebner’s new “cave-aged” line, cheeses more artisan in nature, small-batch, traditional methods, longer-aged. Grafton, best-known for its lineup of aged cheddars, bricks, pre-cut packages, etc since hiring Huebner now include an extensive line-up of tasty artisan offerings, many of which are, just as quickly as they appear, lining up national and international awards. Many are limited in production and are seasonal.
Like their cheddars, I find Bismark pleasant, if mild. It’s not Manchego Artesano in terms of depth of flavors, richness or the notes of heat and dust you get from the best Spanish sheep’s milk cheeses. Nonetheless, it’s chewy density, bright and light paste and overall flavor of nuts, a bit of lactic tang and minerals are nice. Tasty with salted Marcona almonds and olives. Paired well with a ’99 Tempranillo reserve.
Added benefit: Grafton Village Cheese is part of the non-profit Windham Foundation whose mission “…is to promote the vitality of Grafton and Vermont’s rural communities through its philanthropic and educational programs and its subsidiaries whose operations contribute to these endeavors.” Cheers to that!
Grafton’s new cave-aged line is:
Clothbound Cheddar (year-round)
Classic milled-curd cheddar wrapped in cheesecloth, matured slowly in Grafton’s own aging caves for a minimum of six months. Grafton Clothbound delivers a very bold cheese with both nut and mushroom notes.
This is a semi-hard sheep’s milk cheese that is accented with cows’ milk. It presents a rhythmic flavor medley that is tangy and sharp, and finishes with a delicate sour cream note. Aged for a minimum of two months.
Vermont Leyden (year-round)
Leidse Kaas (Leyden Cheese) is a cheese made on farms, historically in the Leiden
area of the Netherlands. Grafton’s Vermont Leyden has a big, buttery flavor and texture, brightened with the warmth of cumin seeds. This cows’ milk cheese mellows with age while growing in complexity. Aged a minimum of two months.
Naked Cheddar (limited availability)
This unique cheddar is put into the cave to age “naked” (not wrapped in cloth) and quickly develops its own natural rind. As a result, it reaches maturity quickly and boasts a full and complex buttery profile, achieving a delicate mushroomy note after just 60 days.
Red Vask (fall/early winter)
A cheese like no other, this is our washed-rind wheel made of 100% sheep’s milk. Beneath the bright-red exterior is a supple, semi-soft white paste. Aged for a minimum of two months, Red Vask presents a mellow, smooth and meaty flavor.
In a remarkable display of synergy, our expert cheesemakers combine high-quality sheep and cows’ milk to make a gorgeous wheel of cheese, which is then cave-aged for at least five months. Complex and earthy, its butter-yellow semi-firm paste is protected by a velvety rind of white and gray molds. Sold out for 2012.
Named for a legendary and majestic Vermont ram from the late 19th century, Bismark is an equally magnificient sheep’s milk cheese. It starts tender, tangy and sweet and builds to a creamy, hazelnut finish. It grows increasingly complex with age. Aged for a minimum of three months.
Truffled Bismark (summer/fall)
The Truffled Bismark has the profile of the Bismark, but we add white and black truffles along with truffle-infused olive oil to the cheese. The end result offers a delicate, rich taste. Aged for a minimum of three months.
Bear Hill (fall/winter)
This washed-rind alpine style cheese, made with 100% sheep milk, is gently fruity and nutty, with a smooth, milky mouthfeel and a hint of sweetness. Named for the bluff overlooking Grafton Village.
Eweden (summer, Grafton Village retail stores only)
Made with sheep and cow milk, is an original cheese with a soft texture accented with the black seeds of nigella sativa, giving it a mild yet exotic flavor. Aged for a minimum of 2 months.
Eweden Apple Pie (fall, Grafton Village retail stores only)
A sheep and cow original cheese, spiced with cinnamon, ginger, clove and nutmeg then marinated in Eden Ice Cider. This smooth and creamy cheese has a pleasing dairy tang and aromatic spicing.
Cheese: Grafton Bismark
Where: Grafton, Vermont
Milk Type: sheep, raw
Tasting notes: mild and nutty, a slight tang and note of minerals near the rind.