Kinsman Ridge is a bi-state effort. Cheesemakers Deb and Doug Erb produce two different raw cow’s milk cheeses at their dairy farm and creamery in Landaff, New Hampshire: their eponymous Landaff, inspired by Welsh farmhouse wheels, and Kinsman Ridge, inspired by St-Nectaire.
The Erbs don’t age their cheeses on site, choosing instead to ship them across the Connecticut River to repose at Cellars at Jasper Hill in Greensboro, Vermont. In addition to affinage, Jasper Hill also markets and distributes Landaff’s cheeses, so you’ll find their name more prominent on the label.
Kinsman Ridge is a semi-soft, washed rind, tomme-style cheese that ages from three to five months. The five- to six-pound wheels wear a thin, chalk-white rind formed naturally from cave aging. The rind’s taste is earthy but clean, like fresh button mushrooms, and its leathery texture offers a welcome contrast to the oozy cream line underneath.
Kinsman’s paste is springy and sticky, its center interrupted by small holes. The scent mingles forest floor and sweet forest honey—almost a caramel-mushroom smell. The cheese’s flavors are buttery but earthy and slightly animal, and its finish is like roasted hazelnuts. Salting is just right.
Pairing Wine with Kinsman Ridge
Pair Kinsman Ridge with white wines that have some weight. Try Alsatian Riesling; the wine’s suggestion of wet street will mingle with the scent of the earthy rind, while its bright honeyed flavors will offer a warming foil. Also try Pinot Gris, Pinot Blanc, Gewürztraminer, and orange wines (whites made in the style of a red, with skin contact, which imbues them with heft and, often, a note of oxidation).
Although reds are a common pairing suggestion for true French St-Nectaire, I find the wine’s tannins grate against Kinsman and clobber its delicacy. If you’d like to go red, stick to fruity, light-bodied options like Beaujolais Villages, New World Pinot Noir, Freisa, Frappato, or Lambrusco.