Hooked on Cheese: Rogue Creamery's Echo Mountain Blue
From the acclaimed blue cheese experts at The Rogue Creamery in Oregon comes yet another outstanding blue, and this time, it’s called Echo Mountain.
Before I discuss this particular blue, I must mention that as far as I’m concerned, the guys at Rogue may be the best blue cheese producers in America. I’m not alone in my assessment: their cheeses have twice won the coveted Best of Show prize at the American Cheese Society Judging. While winning once is astonishing, winning twice is a feat!
A bit of backstory on the dairy: Rogue Creamery was started during the Great Depression by Tom Vella, a dairyman who had just moved north to Oregon from Sonoma, California. The creamery is located in Central Point, only a couple of miles away from Oregon’s famous Rogue River (hence the name). Notably, Rogue was the first blue cheese producer west of the Missouri river with its own cheese-aging caves.
The creamery was a fully family-owned-and-run dairy until 2002, when it was bought by two incredibly generous, non-roguish guys: David Gremmels and Cary Bryant. Cary is the primary cheesemaker while David handles the business. They are both passionately involved in the industry – not just for the benefit of their own dairy, but out of a genuine love of cheese and cheesemakers. David serves as President of the American Cheese Society and Cary is on the board of the Raw Milk Cheese Makers Association
While all seven of Rogue Creamery’s blues are outstanding, Echo Mountain has a unique edge. It is a blend of raw cow’s and goat’s milks; the cow’s milk gives it richness and abundant pasture floral notes while the goat’s milk adds minerality and a crispy acidity. This cheese is cave aged for at least 180 days – twice the average aging time of most blue cheeses – and is not released for sale until the cheesemakers have deemed the taste absolutely perfect. Cave aging coaxes out the deep flavors of this cheese, and helps it develop its signature brightly hued veins and forest green crystals throughout.
The organic, certified-sustainable, rBST/rBGH-free whole milk they use to make the vegetarian-friendly (no animal rennet) Echo Mountain blue comes from Rogue Creamery’s own dairies. The goats are pastured alongside the cows on the banks of the Rogue River itself, so both express the same terroir – a very rare feature.
Echo Mountain Blue is ideal to serve on a world-class cheese plate paired with a well-aged pinot noir wine. You can also cook with it, or use it as a salad component, but with a taste this good, Echo Mountain undeniably stands on its own.
Additional reporting by Madeleine James.