Grafton Village Cheese’s Clothbound Cave-Aged Cheddar and Bear Hill
By Marcella Wright, ACS CCP™
Cheesemaking has been a tradition in Grafton Village, Vermont since the late 1800’s when local dairy farmers formed a coop to pool their surplus milk. In 1912, the cheesemaking factory burned down and the community had no cheese facility until 1962, when The Windham Foundation restored the factory and brought cheesemaking back to the community. The Foundation is dedicated to promoting the rural communities of Vermont. The profits from Grafton Village Cheese go back into the Foundation to further its commitment to keep rural Vermont alive and thriving.
Recently, I received a “care package” from Grafton Village Cheese which included their Clothbound Cheddar and 2013 American Cheese Society Best of Show runner-up, Bear Hill.
I like to think of Cheddar as the “utility player” of cheese. You can do so much with cheddar and it pairs well with many diverse food items. Cheddar comes in several different formats and can be served young and as aged as 15 years. Last year a truckle of cheese more than 30 years old was discovered in the back of a Wisconsin cheese shop’s walk-in cooler. It was still tasty and sold for about $35.00 an ounce.
The traditional English cheddars are clothbound, and the Grafton Clothbound Cheddar is made in the same traditional manner. After the make, the cheese truckles are wrapped in cheese cloth and coated with lard or oil to allow breathing while prohibiting the introduction of unwanted bacteria and mold. It is aged in Grafton’s own caves for a minimum of six months where it develops both nutty and mushroom notes and a bold cheddar profile. You’re going to love this cheese… I promise…
My “favorite cheese” is generally the last cheese I tasted, but if I were to pick a favorite “family” of cheese it would be aged sheep milk cheeses. Bear Hill, named after the hill overlooking Grafton Village, is an aged sheep milk cheese made in the Alpine style and washed to give it an extra bit of aroma. This cheese is nutty and full-flavored with a sweet finish. You get that pleasant sheep tang but none of that barnyard taste that sometimes occurs with goat milk cheeses. It’s a sublime cheese and as mentioned above, it was the Best of Show runner-up at the 2013 American Cheese Society Judging & Competition.
For more cheese reviews and other “cheesy” info, please visit my website: marcellathecheesemonger.com