Meet Olivier Boyé of Corsican Cellars

Corsican Cellars is an artisanal cheese importer and distributer located in Mercer Island. Here at Portalis, we have had the pleasure of serving a number of this company’s delicious products for a number of years now. While Corsican Cellars delivers a wide range of French, Italian, Spanish, Corsican, British, Irish, and Belgian goods, it also looks to supply goods from American farms that use traditional, sustainable farming and production techniques. Not only is the company focused on high quality, but the owner Olivier Boyé is knowledgeable about his products, and always delivers excellent merchandise. I had the opportunity to sit down with Olivier and ask him a few questions about his products, producers, and experiences with Corsican Cellars.

I of course first asked Olivier about his personal background, and how he begun in the cheese import business. Olivier’s family was from the island of Corscia originally, but he grew up in a suburb about 25 miles outside of Paris called Étiolles. Every summer his family would return to Corscia to visit his grandmother, and enjoy in all the wonderful artisanal crafted delicacies the island is known for.

Olivier wanted to continue to carry the traditional Corsican artisanal feel into his business, as he had experienced as a child visiting his grandmother. His aim is to be able to create personal relationships with each farm he imports goods from, in order to be better connected to the producer’s success.  The cheeses Corsican Cellars imports are direct from the caves of the producer, so that they can assure the quality for their customers. They are one of the few suppliers that are interested in preserving some of the artisanal cultures of different regions around the world. Many of the producers Olivier imports products from have never before had their products sold to the United States, making Corscian Cellars a very unique company.

I asked Olivier for his top cheese choices to pair with wine, and this is what he came up with for us here at Portalis:

– Ferme Kukulu, Pur Brebis Lait Cru:
o Ferme Kukulu is a 5th generation cheese maker from Basque Country. Made from raw sheep’s milk collected every day on the farm. Aged 4-6 months in a cool underground cave. Firm textured cheese with a natural rustic rind, milky & nutty flavors.
o Pairs well with Riesling like the Domaine Moltes 2009 Riesling Reserve, $19.99

– Fromagerie des Ardennes, Chèvre de Wavreumont:
o From Wallonia in southern Belgium, this organic raw goat’s milk cheese is created using the traditional medieval recipe used by Trappist Monks. Very clean goat lactic flavor with balanced acidity, along with flowery & herbal notes.
o Pair this with the Roche de Lune 2009 Sancerre, $31.99 or the Domaine de La Croix Bouquie 2009 Touraine $15.99
– Fromagerie Glaser, Märitchäs Après Soleil:
o Fromagerie Glaser is a 6th generation cheese maker, and this is the first time it has been imported to the US. The milk used in the cheese is brought in from remote pastures to the village of Steinen on trailers pulled by hand, donkey, or even dogs. This cheese is aged for 10 months in natural caves with a sandy bottom, and then moved to a warmer cave where deeper flavors develop (in total about 18 months of aging). This cheese is slightly salty, buttery, and has roasted hazelnut & fruity notes.
o A round Chardonnay with a hint of oak like the Sparkman 2010 “Lumiere”,  $28.99
– Les Fruitiéres de Bornes, Bleuet de Savoie:
o Also called “Bleuet de Salève”, this is a semi-soft to semi-hard raw cow’s milk bleu cheese. It is a mild a creamy cheese with sweet, grassy aromas. Depending on the time of year the milk was harvested, this cheese can range in color from white to yellow (dry hay feed in winter to grassy and flowery Alpine slopes in summer). Aged for 3 months.
o Try this with Port, such as the Washington produced Wind River Cellars 2001 Port, $20.99
– Emilio Mauri, Burro Mauri Carta:
o This butter comes from a producer in Lombary (a region known for its milk). Emilio Mauri has created wonderful expressions of the natural assests of this part of the world since the 1920s. This butter is a wonderful expression of his vision.
o Pair any buttery dish with a wine such as the Chateau le Boscq 2006 Saint-Estephe, $29.99

Brachetto, the sparkly red jewel from Piedmont

Vineyards in the Italian wine region of Brachetto d’Acqui in Piedmont by italo losero

Brachetto does not get enough press here in the US. That could be because it does seem a bit off-putting to the unknowing customer. Brachetto is a sweet, sparkling, RED, wine. It’s served chilled and is low in alcohol. Yes, it does sound a bit like a teenage cocktail, but it is in fact quite delicious.

Brachetto is very rare because it is made exclusively in Piedmont, Italy. It is produced using the ‘secondary fermentation’ method that is also used when making other sparkling wines like Asti Spumate. Yeast and sugar is added to the bottle along with the base wine (pressed juice), and allowed to ferment. The trapped carbon dioxide that normally is released during fermentation is trapped and bubbles are produced.

The Brachetto we import from the Co-operative Vincho & Vaglio Serra has intense raspberry flavors, a musky bouquet, but is still quite light. It’s a perfect celebratory sparkler as it stands out against the usual array of traditional bubbles.

I introduced Brachetto to my family this past Christmas, and it was well received by all 5 extremely opinionated members. It is very easily drinkable, aromatic, and has rich honey undertones.

This is not only a great holiday bottle, but would also be greatly received on Valentine’s Day. Who wouldn’t want their sweetheart to surprise them with a beautiful red sparkler? Great to sip or with a special dessert.  Try it with a fruit tart, wild berries, hazelnut cake or a chocolate soufflé.