Rogue River is a celebrated and award winning cheese producer from Oregon. Their Smokey Blue Cheese is the first blue cheese ever made on the West Coast.This hand crafted raw cow’s milk blue veined cheese develops a beautiful natural rind as a result of hand turning and tending the cheese several times a week. The wheels are aged for up to a year in caves that simulate the ancient caves of Roquefort, France. This aging process imparts into the cheese naturally occurring moulds that are considered signature Rogue River Valley Terroir. Rogue River terroir includes hints of sweet woodsy pine, wild ripened berries, hazelnuts, morels and pears. To preserve the cheese it is hand wrapped in Syrah grape leaves. These leaves have been macerated in Pear Brandy and tied with raffia. The grape leaves add additional complexity to the terrior driven flavours of the cheese and preserve its moist creamy texture.
Rogue River then cold smokes the cheese for 16 hours over hazelnut shells from the Pacific Northwest. The result is a balance of sweet caramel and hazelnut flavors that magically contrast with the sharpness of the blue. I am not a huge blue cheese fan but Rogue River is on par with Australia’s Roaring Forties for best in class as far as I’m concerned.