If you've been into the winery in the past few weeks, you've been enthusiastically told by our staff about our new cheese plates. We're so excited to serve up our new platters because we're in love with the product, and because we took a major part in the crafting of the menu. Each cheese has an ideal pair to every wine on the menu, to which our own tastebuds can attest. It would only be fair to let you in on the magic of our pairings and give an exposè of all our new delectable cheeses. Here, we have them listed in descending order from mild to wild.
P'tit Basque- We start off our cheese menu with this smooth, buttery number. This is a sheep's milk cheese from the Pyrenees Mountains in France. Nicknamed the crème brulee of cheese, P'tit Basque has a nutty flavor with caramel undertones and pairs well with fruits, which just so happen to be a part of our cheese plate. We recommend it as an accompaniment to both of our Rosès.
Snofrisk- Meaning "snow fresh" in Norway, its country of origin, Snofrisk is a rich and tangy goat's milk cheese with a surprising freshness. It is pure, slightly acidic, and pliable, as the name suggests. Fun fact: it was first introduced at the 1994 Winter Olympics in Lillehammer. It really shines next to our Pinot Grigio, as both are crisp and tart.
Great Ocean Road Cheddar- This Australian cheddar is sharp and crisp. Aptly named after the Aussie wind, Great Ocean Road, this cheese pairs perfectly next to fruits and meats alike, and complements our 2012 Chardonnay.
Seascape- Just like our wines, Seascape is produced in the Central Coast of California. It is a goat and cow milk blend in a cheddar style, making it somewhat crumbly with a complex tanginess. It is versatile as part of a charcuterie. We recommend trying it with our 2013 Old Vine Chardonnay.
Caña de Oveja- This Spanish cheese, literally translating to "Log of Sheep," is a crumbly sheep's milk cheese with intense flavors of tangy butter, a product of its 21-day aging process. While typically a good match for white wines, we adored this next to both our Pinot Noirs.
Mon Sire Brie- This triple cream brie cheese from France is rich, creamy, and supple. It is amazing when spread over a bread or cracker, and goes perfectly alongside fresh fruit. We recommend you try it alongside our spicy and fruity Grenaches.
Cambozola Black Label- Aged six months in Bavaria, this German bleu cheese is actually created in a brie-style. It's aging process gives in earthy blue tones with nutty, buttery flavors, and complex, grey rind, and a smooth, creamy texture. This cheese was a great pair with our 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon, although it can also be put next to a crisper wine as well.
Tete de Moine- This Swiss cheese is one of the strongest on the market. From a centuries old recipe, Tete de Moine offers a sharp, nutty, and woodsy taste with heavy fruit aspects. It pairs well with prosciutto and fruity, intense wines. We enjoyed it alongside our Merlot and 2014 Cabernet Sauvignon.
Cacionerone- The last of our cheese selections, Cacionerone is an Italian cow and buffalo's milk cheese in a parmigiano style. It is mild, sweet, and flavorful. This hard cheese worked wonders with our Zinfandel.
So now, with a well-informed mind and excited palate, you can head over to Seal Beach Winery and try our new cheese plate. They come in four sizes (three or five cheeses, with our without meat), and add an amazing dimension to our wine selections.
Appellation: Los Olivos District
Location: Estelle is the most Northeast of the vineyards that make up the Los Olivos District. It sits in its own corner abutting the Happy Canyon AVA.
Grape Varieties: Albariño, Barbera, Cabernet Sauvignon, Grenache, Grenache Blanc, Grenache Noir, Loureiro, Merlot, Mouvedre, Nebbiolo, Sangiovese, Syrah, Tempranillo, Verdehlo and Viognier.
Soil: Well-drained, fine, sandy loam with a clay subsoil. Fairly broad alluvial bench underlain by terrace deposits of Orcutt sand.
Climate: Mediterranean with cool wet winters and warm dry summers. The juxtaposition to the Pacific Ocean provides cooling coastal winds and morning fog. Los Olivos is warmer than its neighbor Ballard Canyon but more temperate that its eastern Happy Canyon.
Topography: The front vineyard is relatively flat with a south-facing alluvial plain. The back (Block 8&9) has a moderately sloping terrain.
Seal Beach Winery has been working with Estelle Vineyard since 2009. The first vintage was a blend of several Blocks. Presently we are working with Cabernet Sauvignon in Blocks 8 (Clone 337), Block13 (Clone 341), Block 14 (Clone 101) and Block 16 (Clone 338).
In 2016, we added Merlot Clone 181 in Block 12 and Sangiovese Clone 3 in Block 2A.
The vineyard is meticulously cared for by John and Ivan Belfy. John planted Estelle and many of the vineyards within the Santa Ynez Valley. The perfect marrying of Scion Clone, Rootstock Clone (second number after the dash—110R), soil and climate is an art form that is mystifyingly difficult and defined by an infinite number of variables. The vineyards are immaculately farmed with old school trellising and overcrops but app loaded continuous satellite monitoring. At harvest, the grapes are always beautiful and hardly require any sorting whatsoever.
It is viticulture as described above that makes the winemaking so easy. Just don’t screw it up! Is the definition of Estelle Cabernet. Crush and De-stem, into the fermenters, inoculate, press and age in barrels. It is that simple.
Merlot is blended into the Cabernet Clone Cuvee that we make. It is planned to have its own varietal bottling as well. The Sangiovese has been offered as a Growler wine but in the future we will be bottling this wine.
The overall intensity, varietal expression and vinified complexity set the character of Estelle Wines. Having a leaner fruit style than neighboring Happy Canyon but an uniform soil type allows great balance and long term aging.
SBW has long term contracts with Estelle Vineyard and a commitment to the Cabernet Project. Estelle has been with us from the beginning and will be there as we evolve into future. Expect many new blends for the Growlers and Bottled Varietals with Estelle Grapes defining the high quality that we strive to achieve in every Vintage.
2014 Cabernet Sauvignon Clone 101 To Be Released
2015 Sangiovese (Growler) To Be Released
2015 Grenache (Growler) To Be Released
I was lost in a spiral of texture and flavor, engulfed in the swirl of wine and cheese that filled my mouth. I tasted each little sample of cheese in front of me—hard cheeses, soft cheeses, cow, goat, and sheep cheeses—and I tried my hardest to transfer notes from my tongue to paper. I fought to distinguish fruit and floral flavors in the wine, creaminess and nuttiness in the cheese, and sought to understand the perfect juxtaposition of flavors that made each shine.
This was the beginning of my foray into the world of cheese and wine pairing. When we at Seal Beach Winery had a staff meeting at Cheese Addiction in Long Beach, I didn’t really know what to expect. I’ve always had a love of wine, and I’ve been an avid cheese eater since I was young, but perfectly melding those experiences was only something I’d dabbled in when trying to impress friends and dates with homemade charcuterie assembled from grocery store cheese and crackers. And being brand new at the winery, I was afraid I would be out of my depth.
But here I was, happily nibbling on corners of cheese and suckling sips of wine, actually understanding how the flavors of each intersected. I noticed how notes in the cheese really left some wine flat. I observed strange aftertastes that didn’t exist with other pairings. I discovered on my own, but only because I chose to disregard emphatic advice, that Ginger Mango Stilton really has no business being paired with white wine. I tasted the most brilliant combination of Creamy Truffle Brie and Grenache, which, for me, was certainly the highlight of the night. I felt a spark light inside me after finding the truly perfect cheese for each wine on the menu, and similarly proud of myself when I could immediately tell that a combination we chose to test was just not going to work the way we had anticipated.
After a long night of diligently trying cheese and laboriously sipping on wine, the staffs of Seal Beach Winery and Cheese Addiction eventually crafted an amazing cheese menu with ideal pairings for each of the wines we offer. Since then, our cheese plates have morphed into amazingly catered creations with cheese selections based on the wine in front of our customers. They are gorgeously lined with artisanal crackers and rich servings of Italian meats, and are created with the knowledge and experience we gleaned from the best staff meeting that’s ever happened anywhere.