TOP PICK OF THE WEEK: Casa Noble Tequila & A Tequila-Cheese-Chocolate Tasting - THE NIBBLE Blog
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TOP PICK OF THE WEEK: Casa Noble Tequila & A Tequila-Cheese-Chocolate Tasting

Casa Noble Blanco Crystal Tequila

Casa Noble Reposado

Casa Noble Tequila Carlos Santana

Casa Noble Alta Belleza

[1] Casa Noble Crystal Tequila: the best blanco/silver tequila we’ve ever had. [2] Add a bit of age and you get a reposado tequila. [3] The special edition named for company director Carlos Santana: Casa Noble Santana Reserve 5 Years Anejo. [4] The top of the line, Casa Noble Alta Bellezza, is as great as tequila gets. But let us quickly say: They’re all great! (Photos courtesy Casa Noble)

 

You’ve no doubt seen more ads or advertorials that promise “the finest tequila in the world.”

We haven’t had a side-by-side comparison tasting of them, but we have tasted most of the , and most recently had have the most exquisite tequila tasting of our long life, with the founder and master distiller of Casa Noble Tequila, Jose “Pepe” Hermosillo.

Don’t take only my word for it: Musician Carlos Santana preferred Casa Noble to the extent that he joined the board and had a tequila aged for five years (the bottle bears his signature).

Casa Noble has two more features that will especially interest some consumers: It’s certified organic and certified kosher (by Star-K).
 
WHAT MAKES THE FINEST TEQUILA?

The best agave plants from the species Agave tequilana (commonly called blue agave), aged to maturity (10-14 years) before harvesting.

As with everything, time is money. The most time-intensive production techniques, from roasting the agave piñas (they look like pineapples) to 100% natural fermentation and triple distillation (most tequilas are only distilled twice).

Yet, the prices are reasonable for such great spirits.

THE EXPRESSIONS OF TEQUILA

If you know spirits, you know there are different expressions based on age. In the case of tequila, the expressions are aged according to law:

  • Blanco Tequila (“white”), also called plata (“silver”) or crystal. Clear and transparent, the tequila is bottled or stored immediately after distillation, or aged no more than two months.
  • Joven Tequila (“young”) or oro (“gold”): un-aged tequila blended with rested or aged tequilas. In some lesser brands, caramel coloring, sugar-based syrup, glycerin, and/or oak extract are often added in order to resemble aged tequila. Don’t buy based on color!
  • Reposado Tequila (“rested”): light yellow and translucent. The tequila is aged for at least six months but less than a year. Reposado began to emerge as a new category of tequila in the late 1980s
  • Añejo Tequila (“aged” or “vintage”): brighter yellow, aged at least one year, but less than three years.
  • Extra Añejo Tequila (“extra aged” or “ultra aged”): a golden color, aged at least three years in oak.
  • Older Expressions. These specialty expressions are not age-regulated per se; they can be as old as the distiller likes and designated by age (e.g. 7 Años) or by a proprietary name. For example, the limited edition Casa Noble Santana Reserve 5 Years Anejo (MSRP $549.99; we found it online for $499.99).
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    Different distilleries can create even older expressions, in limited editions. These top-of-the-line offerings are typically housed in an exquisite bottle. While the bottle appeals to everyone, the taste is a connoisseur’s delight. They are priced accordingly (Casa Noble’s Alta Belleza—only 563 bottles available for the world—is $1,200).

    Here’s more about tequila.

    THE JOY OF CASA NOBLE TEQUILA

    First, let us say that we had the privilege of tasting Alta Belleza, the first release of Casa Noble’s Colección del Fundador. It is offeredin extremely limited quantities, priced at $1,200, and for those who don’t concern themselves with price, well worth it. For a spectacular tequila gift, look no further.

    The rest of us can find joy in Casa Noble’s Crystal (the best blanco/silver we’ve ever had) and the other expressions, all of which are affordable to reasonably affordable.

     
    These are the suggested retail prices (which, of course, can vary by retailer):

  • Casa Noble Crystal Tequila, $39.99
  • Casa Noble Joven Tequila, $49.99
  • Casa Noble Reposado Tequila, $59.99
  • Casa Noble Añejo Tequila, $69.99
  • Casa Noble Single Barrel Extra Añejo Tequila, $129.99
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    After having the privilege to enjoy a tasting with Pepe a few months ago, the amazing Crystal (blanco, silver) has become our gift of choice for tequila lovers. Our gift note says: “Don’t make Margaritas with this: It’s meant to be savored straight!”

    Of course, if you want to make Margaritas with it, it’s your palate and your right! The Crystal will give an extra lime lift to the fresh lime juice in the cocktail.

     

    TEQUILA, CHEESE & CHOCOLATE TASTING

    We had our second memorable Casa Noble experience last week, at Murray’s Cheese. There, Adam Goddu, a general manager at Murray’s and a Certified Cheese Professional, joined Pepe Hermosillo to escort a group of food writers through a celestial pairing of great tequilas and memorable cheeses.

    Most of us are so oriented to having cheese with wine or beer, that we don’t think of serving a cheese tasting plate with tequila. But with a glorious tequila like Casa Noble, the pairing is as natural as a Burgundy or a Barolo.

    We asked Adam Goddu to advise all of us on how to put together a pairing of cheese and tequila.

    Then we thought: Add a chocolate pairing and make a terrific party of the four food groups (alcohol, cheese, bread, chocolate).

    In general, what do you look for in a cheese/drink pairing?

    Adam: We look for some magical math: 1 + 1 = 3. You want the items to complement each other but you also want the flavor combination to evolve into something more.

    We go by three basic pairing principles: “Like with Like,” “Opposites Attract” and “What Grows Together, Goes Together.” These work for pairings with crackers, jams and honeys as well as drinks.

    Certain regional pairings (Loire Valley goat’s milk cheeses with a crisp white from that region) are a natural pairing…they’ve been made in the same area for centuries. I personally prefer the opposites approach: if you have a rich, decadent sheep’s milk or triple crème, you want a white with a strong acidic back bone (and perhaps some bubbles!).

    Why do tequila and cheese work well together?

    Adam: I think wine and beer hog the limelight when it comes to traditional cheese pairings; but tequila can be just as versatile and special with the right combination or flavors.

    It can be difficult to pair cheese with high-alcohol beverages because that booziness can overpower many elements. When you have tequila with nuance and charm like Casa Noble’s Single Barrel Añejo, the sky is the limit. A funky washed rind or fudgy, spicy blue cheese pair wonderfully.

    Talk us through some of the more specific pairings of different tequilas.

    Adam: There are general rules you can use with certain styles, but you really need to remember that no two expressions* are exactly alike. Blanco and Joven [the two youngest expressions] are quite boozy [alcoholic] and pack a punch, so you need a cheese strong enough to stand its ground. [Editor’s note: We find Casa Noble tequilas to be so finely crafted, even the youngest are not alcoholic or “hot.”]

    Higher butterfat cheeses do very well overall (sheep’s or water buffalo’s milk cheeses).

    Anejo’s oaky/vanilla notes lean toward Alpine cheeses with caramel and roasted almond flavors dancing beautifully together.

    Blanco tends to have a clarity and subtly with sweet corn and grass coming to the forefront. You don’t want a big brassy cheese to overpower the tequila in this case so sticking with a milder, “sweeter” Brie style is perfect.
     
    What’s your favorite type of tequila to pair with cheese?

    Adam: I like a challenge, so finding the perfect cheese for Joven was a lot of fun.

    As far as straight up tastiness, the barrel-aged tequilas (reposado, añejo) allow a bit more freedom. You can play around with Gruyère, a clothbound Cheddar and a mild blue (Gorgonzola, Stilton) and find that each pairing brings out a different side of the tequila.

    For our tasting of Casa Noble’s Crystal, Joven, Reposado, Añejo and Single Barrel Añejo, Adam created the following pairings, served with honey, Marcona almonds, dried fruits, baguette slices and crackers.

    While the pairings were “textbook,” based on flavor profiles, we couldn’t find a mis-match. That’s what happens when all items are the best of their kind.

  • Crystal Tequila (not aged; no vegetal notes but flavors of lime zest and sweet corn) with Camembert (strong bloomy rind, full-flavored Brie style)
  • Joven Tequila (aged 6 weeks for sweet floral and tropical fruit notes) with Cornelia, a house specialty washed rind cheese with a creamy paste
  • Reposado Tequila (aged 364 days in French white oak, just one day short of a legal añejo) with Bianco Sardo, a rich, “wooly” raw sheep’s milk cheese. Tangy yet creamy, with earthy and sweet grass notes.
  • Añejo Tequila(two years in French white oak, beautifully balanced), with Annelies, an Alpine style raw cow’s milk cheese redolent of cooked caramel and nuts.
  • Extra Añejo Single Barrel (aged five years with Colton Bassett Stilton and Greensward (Jasper Hill Farm’s Harrison, washed in-house to create deeper flavors)
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    CHOCOLATE & TEQUILA

    While chocolate was not part of the Murray’s event, we host chocolate pairings a few times a year (here’s what we do with wine, beer).

    Chocolate and tequila are a delicious marriage, whether the groom is young (an unaged blanco), old (a well-aged extra añejo), or any age in-between.

    Plain chocolates are the purest way to merge the flavors. We like:

  • White chocolate with blanco or joven tequila
  • Milk chocolate with joven or reposado tequila
  • Dark chocolate with reposado or añejo tequila
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    What about flavored and filled chocolates?

  • Fruity flavors—fruity ganaches (our favorites: orange, raspberry), chocolate cherries, bars with dried fruit, can pair with all expressions of tequila. They pair even better according to our chocolate-and-expression guide immediately above.
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    Anejo Tequila With Cheese

    Greensward Cheese

    Bianco Sardo Sheep Cheese

    Colston Basset Stilton

    Amedei White Chocolate

    Stack Of Dark Chocolate

    Mexican Chocolate Tiles

    [5] All of Casa Noble’s tequilas are delicious with cheese. Shown here: Greensward and Stilton (photo courtesy Casa Noble). [6] Greensward, We love chocolate with tequila. [6] Bianco Sardo, a Sardinian sheep’s milk cheese. [7] Cossett Bassett, a beloved Stilton (cheese photos courtesy Murray’s Cheese). [8] Casa Noble’s Crystal, with its lilt of lime, is a perfect pairing with white chocolate (photo courtesy Amedei Chocolate). [9] For milk or dark chocolate, head to the aged tequilas (photo courtesy La Chocolate). [10] Aztec” chocolates with chile and other Mexican spices work well with tequila (photo courtesy Bespoke Chocolate).

  • Mint and tequila are also a classic pairing, with the bright, grassy heat of the tequila emphasizing the coolness of the mint.
  • Spices: According to the “universal law of food pairing,” wine and spirits were made to complement the local cuisine. Thus, spicy chocolates with chiles, cinnamon and other warm-to-hot spices like pepper go well tequila. Look for Aztec bars, which typically have all three.
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    And get ready for a great Valentine’s Day (Or Anytime) Party!
     
    MORE PAIRINGS

  • Bubbly & Chocolate Pairings
  • Cheese & Chocolate Pairings
  • Scotch & Chocolate Pairings
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    *An expression is a different variation (think recipe) of the distillery’s spirit. The variations can be based on age, single grain/malt vs. blend (whiskey), single barrel/cask, etc. The highest-regarded distilleries can produce limited editions expressions that are aged longer, with other features that appeal to a connoisseur’s palate.

      




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