Cave Aged Cheddar (Carr Valley)
Located in the rolling hills of central Wisconsin, Carr Valley Cheese remains one of Wisconsin's most traditional cheese plants, famous for its Wisconsin cheddar varieties, as well as a host of more modern cheeses. Now owned and operated by Sid Cook, Carr Valley was founded in 1902, but the Cook family has been making cheese since 1883.
Sid is a fourth generation cheesemaker. The first cheese plant that his father operated was in Irish Valley, where Sid worked with his father for several years before taking over the business in the mid 70's. During this time Sid also learned how to make his own cultures from his father and grandfather. He and his brother made Wisconsin-style cheddar at that location for ten years, and Sid eventually purchased Carr Valley in 1986 and another cheesemaking facility in 1991, with a layout that would allow for more flexibility and the development of more styles of cheese.
Carr Valley now sources cow's milk from 40 farms, all located within 20 miles of the plant, and each milking no more than 70 cows. Sheep's milk comes largely from one dairy and goat's milk from a group of eight farms in the Green Bay area. Carr Valley makes over 65 different cheeses.
Cave Aged Cheddar is made in the style of a traditional cheddar. After the wheels are formed during production, each one is wrapped in cloth to protect the rind and then transferred to a maturing cave for three months of aging.
Unlike cheeses that are aged in plastic or wax, the cloth allows the cheese to breathe naturally as it matures. Over time, this results in moisture loss and a concentration of flavors within the finished cheese.
The texture of Cave Aged Cheddar is firm and slightly dry. The interior paste is pale straw yellow while the exterior rind is a mottled grey and brown. This cheeses is characterized by flavors of earth balanced with rich, lactic notes and a tang on the finish.
Good pairings include Merlot, Scotch Ales and French Cider.