Gelmini Gorgonzola Piccante
'orgonzola lays claim to the title of world's oldest blue veined cheese. Records suggest Gorgonzola cheese dates to sometime in the late 9th century. It is named after the city of 'orgonzola, in northeast metropolitan Milan. The cheese achieved P.D.O. (Protected Designation of Origin) status from the European Union in 1996. The P.D.O. identifies specific provinces in the Italian regions Piedmont and Lombardy that produce 'orgonzola and restricts the production of 'orgonzola to pasteurized cow's milk and the addition of milk ferments, rennet and Penicillium roqueforti spores. After curding, the cheese makers put the cheese into 33 pound molds for each wheel of cheese to allow the whey to drain out. After draining, the wheels are turned and marked on each side with the dairy's identification number and moved to warm store rooms where they are salted. Following three weeks of cold storage, steel rods pierce the wheels allowing air into the paste to create Gorgonzola's blue-green veins. There are two varieties of Gorgonzola: the more delicately flavored 'orgonzola Dolce (sweet) and the sharper tasting, more mature 'orgonzola Piccante.
Towards the end of the 19th century, Carlo Gelmini established Gelmini 'orgonzola by helping to convert his grandparents artisanal cheese business into a modern company. Carlo Gelmini's sons now run the business.
I have a wedge of Gelmini 'orgonzola Piccante and I am pairing it with a bottle of Wabasha Red Dessert IPA. The cheese is not for the faint of heart. I unwrap the cheese in the kitchen to warm and it is pungent - the aroma fills the room with sweat, mushroom, funk, onion, garlic and vegetable aromas. The paste is very light beige with green-blue to black veins that are distributed randomly through the cheese. It has a semi-soft creamy texture that you can spread on a tough enough piece of bread. The cheese is tangy, lightly tart, buttery, spicy and mildly funky with some moderate vegetable notes and a light bitter note on the finish. The beer is rich and malty with some citrus that brings out some fruit in the cheese while the beer's hops and the cheese's funk create new flavors while playing together. The beer's malt presence plays an important role initially sweetening the cheese and mellowing the the bitterness when the bitterness from the cheese and the beer combine in the finish. The beer's bitterness also play off the cheese's tangy notes. The after tastes is delightfully long and lingering. the cheese is fabulous and the pairing rates 87.