The Cellar’s Somm and Cheesemonger show us some of California’s ambrosial wine and cheese.
California has much to offer when it comes to wine and cheese. If your conscious consumption manifests in the locality of your eating, then you can rest assured that a night at The Cellar has some things to delight you. The romantically laid-back restaurant and wine bar has some exceptional cheese and wine from Farms and vineyards in this great state. I sat down with The Cellar’s Cheesemonger and Sommelier, and learned some of the wonderful intricacies of local cheese, and sustainable wine. It fascinated me so much that I’m starting to understand why one would want to become a connoisseur.
MARISA LISCANO CHEESEMONGER
What training did you do to become a cheesemonger?
“I went through the whole [cheese] case, eating, taking notes, and taking pictures of everything. That’s honestly how you learn, you just eat your way through the case.”
What do you keep in mind when buying cheese for The Cellar?
“I really try to listen to what people like, but then get them to try other variations. Instead of a sharp cheddar, I’ll give them something that has a little bit of a salty sweetness, but still has those cheddar qualities. People love our double cream brie-style cheese that tastes like butter, so I try to get cheeses that are in that same vein, but just have a little more to them.”
What can you say about the cheeses you’ve chosen today?
Picolo: Cow Andante Creamery Petaluma, California
Seascape: Cow-Goat Combo Central Coast Creamery Paso Robles California
Estero Gold: Cow Valley Ford Cheese Co. California
“These are all really great examples of California cheeses. Picolo is a delicious little triple cream great for spreading on bread, Estero Gold is a hard cheese that can easily be used on your next pasta dish, and Seascape has a great texture when melted in a grilled cheese! These cheeses have so much flavor, they’re perfect for beer, wine, and cooking.”
Kim Prieto / Sommelier
How long does it take one to become a Sommelier?
“Everyone’s journey is unique. How one becomes or how long it takes one to gain the responsibility of a sommelier depends on a number of factors – your experience and education, your ability to taste, to inform guests, to sell wine and maintain a wine list for example.”
What do you consider when buying wine for The Cellar?
“It is important to maintain a balance between what guests enjoy drinking, as well as providing wines from classic regions. I also like to offer unusual and exciting wines for those willing to try something a little different. Having a good amount of wines that pair well with food is very important.”
Why did you choose these wines today?
“I selected a few California wines based on their thoughtful winemaking. They are either organic, biodynamic or sustainable producers. In regards to pairing wines with food, and specifically cheese, there are a few rules and many classic pairings. But generally, I find that people enjoy their dining experience when they are drinking a wine that they love, eating delicious food and enjoying the company at their table.”
What can you tell us about these wines?
Iron Horse 2013 Classic Vintage Brut Green River Valley, Russian River Valley, Sonoma CA
“They’re a sustainable producer. Their winemaking pays homage to classic Champagne style giving us a crisp, rich and complex beauty.”
Alma Rosa Pinot Gris Santa Barbara, CA
“Alma Rosa Winery & Vineyard was born from a pioneering spirit, the beginnings of a new AVA and organic / sustainable farming as a way of life. Expression of a vintage is more important than making wine that tastes the same year after year.”
Textbook Merlot Napa Valley, CA
“This is an organic Merlot with gorgeous dark berries, chocolate with firm tannins and acidity to balance.”
Tablas Creek Espirit de Tablas Paso Robles, CA
“All of the fruit for Tablas Creek Vineyard wines is grown on their property. The vines are from budwood cuttings from their Château de Beaucastel Estate in the Rhône Valley, France. Esprit de Tablas is a blend of Organically & Biodynamically farmed Mourvedre, Grenache, Syrah & Counoise and is an excellent food wine.