Friday, February 19, 2010

Castello di Borghese 2002 Pinot Noir and Roth's Private Reserve Cheese

Last night, we met with a few old friends. And for the occasion, we opened at their house, another dust covered bottle - this time a Castello di Borghese 2002 Pinot Noir.

As many of you already know, this was the old Hargrave winery, founded by Louisa and Alex Hargrave, the oldest vineyard in Long Island. Since 1999, the first vineyard on the North Fork has been in the creative hands of Prince Marco and Princess Ann Marie Borghese, who promptly renamed it Castello di Borghese -- Castle of the Borgheses. The 2003 season marked the 30th anniversary of this founding vineyard of the Long Island wine industry. Ann Marie and Marco continue to apply new levels of energy, watching the vineyard evolve graciously under their stewardship.

The new owners have expanded the vineyard in Long Island, redesigned the tasting room and set up a cafe-like seating area, one indoors and another outdoors, to allow people a greater degree of relaxation when tasting the ever-expanding selection of Castello di Borghese wines. The year 2001, for example, marked the debut of a new label, the Borghese Meritage, a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Cabernet Franc.

Dominique and I went there during our tenth wedding anniversary, and I bought, what Dominique then said was "too much wine." That is a constant refrain given my spendthrift ways when it comes to wine purchases.

Dominique had bought a new cheese which she was dying to try. And so she opened it up, and laced it on the table. It was excellent. A hard, cheddar/Parmesan style cheese. Nice nuttiness. A little sugary crunch to it. Excellent!

"John Lee Roth's Private Reserve, a new cheese from Wisconsin's 17-year-old Roth Käse dairy, had an auspicious debut at this year's American Cheese Society competition," wrote Janet Fletcher in the September 7, 2007 article Roth's cheese stands alone on

"The cheese placed first in the American Original category for cow's milk, a prestigious award created for cheeses that are uniquely American in inspiration and not modeled after an existing cheese from elsewhere. It also placed third overall, out of more than 1,200 entries, an impressive feat for a newbie," wrote Fletcher. "Roth Käse specializes in alpine-style cheeses, such as Gruyere. In fact, its Surchoix Gruyere took Best of Show at the ACS competition a few years ago. But for its Private Reserve, the company was aiming for a style "other than Gruyere," says Fermo Jaeckle, the company's chief executive."

Back to our wine. So we opened the bottle of Pinot Noir. It has a beautiful, translucent light-ruby red. A nice nose of dried cherries and a slight touch of vanilla. The wine filled your mouth with fresh cherries, and finished dry, with a dash of black pepper at the end. It was wonderful. And a great accompaniment to the cheese. This wine cellared well, and was smoother and more elegant than when I had first tasted it back in 2005 - a testament to good wine making. Wonderful! Everything you hope for.

The kids played, the adults chatted, and sipped wine and ate cheese. A great night, and a great time with old friends.

Read the whole Roth story at