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Redwood Hill Farm Bucheret

A rich, intense, aged goat cheese from Sonoma County, California

Photo: Scott Phillips
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Aged goat cheese is something I eat plenty of when I go to France (my favorite cheese store in Paris stocks more kinds than I can name), but not here; it’s one of those pleasures I consigned long ago to travel abroad. This changed recently when I tasted Redwood Hill Farm’s newest cheese, Bucheret. Intense and assertive with just a hint of the robust flavor you might find in a blue cheese, Bucheret is inspired by the aged French goat cheese known as Bucheron.

Jennifer Bice, owner and cheesemaker at Redwood Hill Farm, has been breeding goats for 30 years and making cheese for more than a decade; her goats and cheeses consistently nab top honors at national competitions and fairs. Jennifer has spent the last year perfecting Bucheret, which is as good as any French aged goat cheese I’ve ever tasted.

Aged for three weeks

Redwood Hill Farm Bucheret is aged three weeks, which doesn’t sound like much for cheese (many top-flight Cheddars are aged at least two years), but it’s a long time for goat cheese, much of which drains for just a day or so and then is ready for market. There are a few other differences in the cheesemaking process that account for its intense flavor and memorable mouthfeel.

Bucheret is a lactic coagulation cheese, which relies on a starter coagulant (called a culture) to firm the curds and bring out flavor; with this method, the curds take 16 to 18 hours to form. (The other main type of cheese is rennet curd cheese—hard, sliceable cheese like Cheddar, which instead relies on rennet as a coagulant and takes a mere 45 minutes to firm.) Jennifer says that lactic coagulation is the best way to coax out silky, mouth-melting texture from goat milk’s small, delicate butterfat particles. The cheese curds are hand-ladled as they firm (rather than cut), and handling them as little as possible promotes the great texture, too.

Mold-aging gives intense flavor

Bucheret aged goat cheese develops flavor from a penicillium candidum mold added to the milk to promote mold-aging. Mold-aging happens in a cool, humid ripening room that replicates a traditional aging cave, and this type of aging gives the cheese a soft outside rind that’s perfectly edible. It also imparts a gentle piquancy that may remind you of the best blue cheese. Mold aging helps the cheese last longer, too. Bucheret ages from the outside in, developing an outside layer that’s creamy, glossy, and butter-colored and contrasts to the innermost layer, which is chalky-white. The combination really wowed me.

Bucheret can handle red wine

When it comes to wine pairing, my general rule is to steer away from drinking red wine with goat cheese (I’d instead opt for Sauvignon Blanc, a crisp, dry white wine whose spunky acidity is a good foil for goat cheese’s chalky quality). But rules are made to be broken. While Sauvignon Blanc (especially one with a little bit of oak) would be fine, it’s worth knowing that Bucheret, can easily handle red wine. This is because of Bucheret’s age, richness, and intensity, something few goat cheeses can lay claim to. So try a sliver or two after dinner alongside a fruity, light-style Pinot Noir with soft tannins. What better way to polish off those last few sips of wine?

Redwood Hill Farm Bucheret can be purchased on the Web at www.redwoodhill.com or by calling the farm at 707-823-8250.

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