Friday, December 12, 2008

Rare FORMAGGIO TORO UBRIACO (drunken bull cheese) arrives!

Durham cheese maker Alessandra Trompeo has quickly received much international acclaim representing American raw cheese makers at the Slow Food Terre Madre event in Turin, Italy. Her "Duchessa" is our best selling cheese and she is a helluva nice lady to boot. We are proud to be the exclusive source for her latest cheese, Toro Ubriaco, or "Drunken Bull" in honor of our fair Bull City!

This cow's milk cheese is an aromatic, washed rind cheese, encased in Sangiovese must (the skins and seeds left over after the red wine making process) so it imparts a winey, fruity taste. Four and a half months in the making, we are extremely excited to debut this exotic, complex cheese starting today. It is made in one pound squares with grape skins intact and cut in half to show the inside and make it a more convenient size for couples. The cost is $21.99/pound (about $11 a piece).

ALESSANDRA HAS MADE ONLY 25 OF THESE CHEESES (50 halves). So please come soon if you are interested in getting some. They will sell out quickly!

Here's Alessandra's notes on the history of this type of cheese:

"The Drunken Bull has its origin in Eastern Italy.  Several folk stories tell how the cheese was born. Someone links its origin to WWI when the farmers, trying to defend their stocks from the soldiers’ raids, would hide the cheese under grape skins. Others think that lack of resources is the main reason why the cheese was born. Being the oil to treat the cheese rinds very expensive, several families of farmers would use grape skins to keep the rinds moist and clean. The result was a very aromatic cheese that would last much longer.
There is also a story about a crooked cheesemaker who tried to hide some wheels from his boss dumping them into a fermenting must barrel. The cheese became then the strong point of that dairy and soon the trick of aging the cheese in grape skins became a habit in many dairies of the area."

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Way Over Due

Hi there and I apologize for the blog being left behind in the last month.  We are way over due for an entry.  November and December are the two busiest retail wine months and while that's not a great excuse, it's our reality.  

The "State of Things" radio show's impact has been tremendous and we welcome all the new customers streaming in from around the Triangle and beyond.  We are truly flattered and humbled by the number of people who have come to the store because they heard us on the radio and actually thought we sounded all right.  As our good friend Sally put it, "we really have a face for radio."  

More importantly we are getting our message out.  We make no claim that all things corporate are bad.  Heck we are an LLC and the wineries we represent are for-profit entities.  It's also difficult for someone to change paradigms when there is not immediate physical evidence to prove the contrary.  If we had a bottle of wine with an ingredient list that read like a Twinkie wrapper vs. a second bottle which stated, "made from grapes," the evidence would be compelling.  Or if we had a person take a sip of wine and immediately start to convulse and then take a sip from another bottle and feel fine, we would really have something.  But the reality is that we eat and drink things which don't necessarily have immediate short term effects and therefore we don't really see the harm or necessarily believe the item is "bad" for us even though long term effects can be considered harmful.

Probably the most compelling evidence we see on a day to day level are the people who claim no headaches or ill effects while drinking wine in small towns of Europe, but have serious side effects when coming back to the States and drinking a large corporate wine from a grocery store.  We all have our sensitivity levels and tolerance levels.  Some feel it, some don't.  

The simple beauty of wine is that you actually can make it from grapes.  Using the other additives are not necessary.  That should be argument enough.  For example, if you could buy an apple pie made from apples, flour, butter, sugar and spices vs. the pie made with loads of stabilizers, emulsifiers, and preservatives, and they both taste good, both cost the same, why choose the chemically added pie?

Maybe we need to have a 30 day challenge.  If you currently drink some of the big brand wines on a regular basis, try drinking anyone's small producer, family owned wine for 30 days and see how you feel.  Of course the opposite would work too, but I won't suggest drinking a Big Liquor Company (BLC) brand for 30 days.  I already know how you will feel.   Would John McEnroe be our spokesperson? - Salamanzar