The Artisan Cheese Bucket List: 5 U.S. Made Cheeses You Must Try

Visiting Cheese Tasting Rooms

The world and even to some degree, our fellow countrymen, often mistake America for being a mediocre cheese nation. This couldn’t be further from the truth: with exceptional milk farms and dedicated craftsmen, cheese companies from all over the country are proving everyday that artisan cheeses bearing the ‘Made in America’ label are a force to be reckoned with.

Here are 5 exceptional American cheeses that you must absolutely experience.

#1 Bellavitano Merlot by Sartori Cheese Company, WI

A young, hard cheese created by the master cheese makers at Sartori, the Bellavitano Merlot is increasingly gaining fame among the cheese connoisseurs. All rave about its rich taste reminiscent of an aged, premium Wisconsin Cheddar. Ripe to perfection, it is a one-of-a-kind cheese that presents incredibly bold, rare flavors and a delicate, lingering Merlot finish – a prowess that comes the sweet and tangy Parmesan notes and the soaking process.

You wouldn’t expect anything less from Sartori Cheese Company, a fourth generation family owned business that has been producing Italian-inspired cheeses using local milk since 1939. Yet, the perfectly balanced Bellavitano is an adult cheese unique to Wisconsin.

#2 The Winnimere by Jasper Hill Farms, VT

Where to begin? This is by far one of the most exceptional cheeses ever made on American soil.

A unique take on Jura Mountain classics like the Vacherin Mont d’Or or försterkäse, the Winnemere by Jasper Hill Farms, VT, lives up to the hype: made only in the winter and aged for 60 days, it incorporates local Ayrshire hay-fed raw milk, giving the cheese its pleasant flavors of bacon, sweet cream and spruce. The result is the most perfectly decadent cheese you’ll ever have.

#3 The Caveman Blue by Rogue Creamery, OR

This world-class blue cheese is yet another fine American cheese that would have the French and the Italians burning with envy.

This rich, complex Blue is perfectly sweet and fruity with slight vanilla tones and a texture of butter and crystals. Although its moniker and mold-riddled exterior could deter the unadventurous eater, these wheels reward bold cheese lovers for their courage. Aged a minimum 6 months in cave, this is a mature cheese with unparalleled flavors and one of the most interesting thick, buttery textures ever experienced in a Blue cheese.

#4 Laura Chenel’s Ash Ripened Taupinière Chèvre

Not that many artisans can boast the title of ‘first goat cheese maker in America’. Laura Chenel can.

In 1970s, this Californian cheese aficionado started producing small batches of her local fresh rind-less goat cheese and began to sell it to iconic San Francisco restaurant Chez Panisse. The rest, as they say, is history: Laura Chenel is now synonym with American goat cheese. She has actively contributed to educating our countrymen palates by putting goat cheese, a cheese that was long seen as a bit of an oddity on everyone’s mouth. No pun intended.

#5 Burnett Dairy Co-Op’s Alpha Morning Sun Cheese with Rosemary

Burnett Dairy is known for their varieties of unique specialty artisan cheeses, all of which are handcrafted in small batches, aged to perfection – and always win awards at the top cheese expos and contests in the country.

The Alpha Morning with rosemary is a divine blend of cheddar and Gruyere, elevated with just the right of touch Rosemary. Its credentials? Winning Best of Class at the 2013 US Championship Cheese Contest and First Place at the 2012 World Dairy Expo.

Eva du Monteil is a culinary trained food and wine critic living in NYC. When she is not exploring the country in search for the next hidden gem, she enjoys eating, drinking and cooking in the company of her friends, chefs and fine purveyors of epicurean experiences. While she loves NYC, she believes some of the most exciting food and drink scenes at the moment include Portland, Los Angeles, Austin, Miami, and Philadelphia.

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