Every once in a while a cheese comes along that makes you weak in the knees. This discovery is part of the thrill of tasting cheeses to pair with Nipozzano Chianti Rufina Riserva DOCG. One such cheese that? newly in the stores is BellaVitano.

BellaVitano is a-unique-in-the-world cheese hailing from the rural terroir of Wisconsin. It’s not really a Parmesan and not really a Cheddar . It delivers the creaminess and robustness of a Cheddar and the sweet nutty flavors of an aged Parmesan. The texture is firm and kind of crumbly with the color of light straw.

When I placed the BellaVitano in my mouth, it made The Cheese Highway by almost melting as I began to chew. Down went a sip of the Nipozzano and in came the complex mingling of black currant and savory cheese. The spiciness in the wine is brought forward by the nuttiness in the cheese so you experience a plethora of flavors right up front. The fruitiness of the cheese enhances the fruit in the wine while they both linger on your tongue. Now take another swallow of the Nipozzano, the cheese will still be there bringing out the long finish of both together.

I also tasted the Black Pepper BellaVitano with Nipozzano and found the spiciness in both gave my taste buds great pleasure. Nipozzano is powerful enough to hold up to a rich and peppery cheese like this while maintaining its elegance. So, in 2009 I hope you will be taking many trips down The Cheese Highway for continued and expanded delights of pairing wine with cheese. Enjoy!