Midnight Moon by Cypress Grove Chevre, in Arcata California, is an aged Goat Gouda that's one of the best wine cheeses around. It pairs with a wide variety of wines, both red and white, and has yet to fail at parties or tastings.
Midnight Moon is made in Europe for Cypress Grove. It's a semi-firm cheese with a pale ivory paste with a slight gray cast. The paste looks smooth and a little shiny. The rind is black wax that should not be eaten. Aged for at least 6 months, the aroma is creamy, buttery, with very faint (but not unpleasant) sour milk notes. It is not goaty at all.
Near the rind, the flavor is hazelnuts, brown butter, caramel, and some herbal notes. As you move towards the center of the wedge, the flavor moves more towards sweet butter, with less nuttiness. Slicing it sideways (rind to center) in wedges gives a great flavor profile.
Arcata, California - Cypress Grove's home - is about 200 miles North of San Francisco. Cypress Grove specializes in goat cheese, and is the creation of Mary Keehn, one of America’s cheese pioneers. She started raising goats in the 1970′s, then moved from cheese hobbyist to cheese producer in 1983. They are best known for their Humboldt Fog goat cheese, one of the great American artisinal cheeses. They source their milk from local farms, helping to support small dairies in the area. It's a great practice, and one that's becoming more common throughout the cheese world.
Midnight Moon pairs wonderfully with a variety of wines, both red and white. It works with well with Sunbox Eleven's Petite Sirah, Clif Family's "The Climber" white blend, as well as with Syrah, Carminere, and many others. Strong reds, like Cabernet Sauvignon, overwhelm it, but in an entertaining situation, it's a great cheese to serve.
Midnight Moon is available locally at Sunset Corner's Wine Shop, most Whole Foods stores, as well as The Cheese Course, and some local grocers.