19 November 2006

Murcia al Vino ("The Drunken Goat")

Ricky Ricotta selects the next experience for Fromage du Mois: an elegant and tasty goat's milk cheese, originally from the southeast Spanish coast. Called Murcia al Vino, and fortuitously available in the US under the pseudonym "The Drunken Goat", it features a wash in red wine as part of the production process. Curiously, the Spanish name sounds more elegant. Jenkins describes the queso de murcia (the basic cheese) as a "very agreeable, moist, smooth goat's milk cheese". The incredible notion of soaking cheese in wine resulted from government pressure in 1986 on local cheesemakers to innovate a unique and delicious cheese to put Murcia on the fromage map, so to speak. This cheese was has only recently become available in the United States. As such, after a conservative start with the venerable Emmenthaler, we celebrate our first venture into the unexplored outback of cheese!


  1. As I was unable to locate the chosen cheese for this week's tasting, I chose instead a similar aged goat's cheese from Spain. Monte Enebro is made in Avila, Spain, by cheesemaker Rafael Baez and his daughter Paloma. It is made using the same mold as Roquefort, and indeed this lovely cheese has a slightly 'Blue Cheese' finish. Monte Enebro is producted in central Spain, near Madrid, while the Quesos de Murcia are traditionally produced in the south east. This cheese had a lovely creamy, almost tacky texture, and an mild moldy flavour that was really delicious. I only regret that I couldn't sample the Drunken Goat, although I am not going to give up the search yet.

  2. Greetings fellow cheesemongers- in training. This cheese was a very lovely experience, smooth, slightly tart, and expansive over the palate. Think of a mildly stinky goat cheese, moderate but not overwheling in flavor, but soaked just enough in red wine to bring out a poignant wine after-taste. It is a great combination; Fontina will not be let down when she 'does the goat' in upcoming weeks. For this cheese, I had to change my shop because the Whole Foods around DC do not carry the Murcia type soaked in wine. Balducci's did the trick nicely. They had 3 fairly large (1 foot diamter) wheels of 'the goat', with a prominent bluish-purple rind. The piece that I bought had a couple of noticeable specks of mold/'blue' near the rind, but was otherwise, an off-white colored, semi-solid cheese. I am not good at distinguising between soft, semi-solid, and solid, if there is even an important distinction beyond description, but my piece had the consistency of your standard grocery store 'cheddar' block. Anyway, I took it home and sampled it after the perfunctory, reccomended lapse time, which lets good cheeses, per Steven Jenkins, cool to room temperature. And so, this is a really great cheese, moderately tart and moldy in flavor (as Fontina pointed)! What may separate the Murcia from others, is the redwine, sweet-ish after-taste which went nicely with the moldly flavor Fontina described above. I ate the cheese with some nice, bland crackers, but I think it might be better with a good quality bread for reasons that are hard to articulate. Steven Jenkins also recommends that good quality cheeses should be sampled with good quality bread, and that you should save the crackers for the lesser ones. I think the jury is still out on this, and perhaps we will flesh this out in coming months with empirical trials:) love and kisses until next fromage, Ricky

  3. The drunken goat is an elusive cheese beast –too complex for my immature palette. Both an animal and country switch from our last tasting, this fromage adds the vino factor, which I found distracting. The cheese seems friendly enough on the surface, but I always found myself looking for hints of wine: sometimes finding them and sometimes not. One of the reasons I like cheese is its moldy / bitter component, which d. goat lacked. It starts with a creamy taste / texture with only slight hints of mold, but in the finish you get a strange sugary sweetness. Don’t get me wrong, fellow cheese lovers, this cheese is certainly delicious – just not the right cheese for my love affair to continue. I sent this one packing. Obviously these are the words of child – to reject this cheese so harshly. Perhaps it’s best to say: D. goat, I will revisit you!
    Despite my overly judgmental sampling, my purchasing experience was exquisite. I’ve discovered a cheese boutique mere blocks from my residence. Refrigerated cases lined with fromage. You can sample before you buy. And they seem to not take themselves too seriously. Also, I’m pleased to report that they recommend the Jenkins book.
    Until next time!