I’ve always been a lover of cheese. A fromagophile, as it were. The more pungent the better, too… when I was a kid, that just meant the sharpest cheddar I could find. Hiding it in the fridge so it could “age” wasn’t out of the question. One of my good friends shares my love of stinky cheese, so we find whatever excuse we can to indulge. Including going to France last year and pigging out on every unpasteurized cheese we could find, but that’s another story.

Last night we went back to Cheuvront, the wine and cheese bar downtown owned by Arizona’s own Senator Ken Cheuvront. It serves as sort of a Phoenix hub for Artisanal in New York… all of the cheeses they offer comes through their shop. Coupled with a large selection of wines, it’s always a treat for the senses.

Although everything on their menu has been tasty, I really enjoy the wine flights they offer. For ~$20, you get three cheeses- about two ounces of each- and three paired wines, of matching quantity. There’s also a spread of crackers and nibbly nuts and fruits to go with the cheese. When the menu is intimidating, it’s an easy to way to sample a surprisingly filling amount of several cheeses.

Last night I had the Zinfandels Forever flight. My favorite of the three was a Spanish sheep’s milk cheese called Idiazábal. It was smoky, semi-hard, and deliciously briny nearer to the rind. Combined with small pieces of sliced strawberry, the flavor was fantastic and had a flavor almost like caviar. (I’m drooling now.) I’m not a huge fan of zinfandel, and didn’t get any surprises here. The wines were good, but not exceptional.

My friend and her sister tried the Spanish Nights and Fruit Forward Reds selections. The standout cheese among theirs was an Italian cow’s milk cheese called Taleggio. Pungent, creamy, soft and silky. They took half a pound home with them, in fact. Each of them had one exceptional wine… the first was a shiraz from Yalumba in Australia, the second a Spanish rioja from Azabache. The shiraz in particular was rich, flavorful, and delicious.

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