From the Savoie region. Cow’s milk cheese from Tarentaise and Abondance cows, curd heated and pressed. Maturing from five months to two years. Yellowish hard inedible rind, with almost rubbery and smooth texture. Milky taste and aromas of butter and honey. A personal favourite of mine.
Beaufort comes in three varieties: Beaufort, Beaufort d’été and Beaufort Chalet d’Alpage. The latter has to be made at small Chalets situated minimum 1500 meters above sea level and only of milk from the herd belonging to that specific chalet where it is made.
As most alpine cheeses, formed as wheels from 20 to 70 kilos each.
AOC since 1968, AOP from 1996.
Excellent in fondue, but best on a slice of country style bread.
To drink: White. Vin Jaune. Chardonnay; preferably from Jura, but also mature Chablis and/or Burgundy. White Croze or Champagne. For the lovers of red wine; try Volnay.
Cow’s milk cheese from Auvergne, ie Le Massif Central. As for Salers (see this), the milk comes from Salers and Montbéliarde cows. Similar to Salers cheese, but Cantal has milk supply from a wider area. Made all year round, but peaks in the wintertime when Salers is not made. Has a soft, yellow or gray golden rind. Although this cheese is defined as solid as it has an almost semi-solid texture. Young specimens have a sweetish taste while while the more mature ones have a more pronounced flavour and hazelnut tones. If I can choose between Cantal and Salers I choose Salers, it has more of everything. Cantal is reminiscent of Cheddar. AOP since 1956.
To drink: The locals will have Côtes d’Auvergne. The rest of us manage well with Beaujolais or an unoaked / moderately oaked Merlot based red.
This raw cow’s milk cheese comes from the Jura in the department of Franche-Comté. Very French, but often referred to as a Swiss type. Aged at least four months, but often longer, but Comté older than 24 months is rare. Have a hard yellow-brown rind but the cheese paste is pale yellow, firm and rubbery. Scattered micro holes. As often with firm alpine cow’s milk cheeses, the taste is slightly nutty with sweet and floral tones. AOP since 1958.
To drink: Since this cheese is from the Jura I recommend a Chardonnay from the same area. Perhaps not very well known, but also try a Vin Jaune or a Fleur de Marne. If you are a cheese and red-wine-freak I would choose east-side Bordeaux. For a bit cheaper varieties try Côtes-de-Bourg or Fronsac.
Emmental de Savoie
Aka French Emmental. Unpasteurised cow’s milk cheese. It is made in a large area of the the region Savoie and Haute Savoie. Originally Swiss, therefore the French version is called French Emmental, and the most famous ones: Emmental de Savoie. Heated (cooked) and pressed, however, we’re not talking about pasteurization. Hard yellow-brown rind while the cheese inside is pale yellow with sometimes outrageously large holes, almost as cheese did not quite hang together. Nice and smooth cheese, firm and absolutely sliceable. Has a slightly sweet and nutty flavour while maintaining a clear salty touch. Besides, the cheese s decorative on any cheese board. This cheese has no AOP protection but an IGP.
To drink: A very generous cheese in terms of wine. Red Burgundy and Rhone wines, certainly as far north as possible. But also red Loire wines and Bordeaux Petit Chateau. On the white side: local wines, Burgundy and Rhône wines.
Fourme de Rochefort-Montagne
A French mountain cheese from Auvergne, more specifically from the municipality of Rochefort-Montagne. Within Le Massif Central, somewhat southwest of Clermont-Ferrand. Only farmstead production, fermier in other words. About 15 farmers who manufacture this cheese. A total of approximately 120 tons a year. Fourme means cheese if you go back in history. A very common term in Auvergne, though. Each cheese weighs between 12 and 17 pounds. Height about 10 cm with a diameter of 29 cm. Cow’s milk and raw. Pressed and cooked, meaning that the curd is heated to about 50 degrees C, so it is not cooked in real terms. After coagulation the curd is poured into molds to drain for 24 hours. About two months maturing thereafter. Has been made in this area for a few hundred years and was originally used as payment for taxes. Small holes in an ivory coloured paste. Taste of dried fruit, but also with a certain acidity and milk loaf. The rind is silver coloured with some growth of mould. Nice and creamy texture in the mouth. Good cheese, perfect with some pain de campagne.
To drink: Locals drink the red Côte d’Auvergne, but it’s hard to get outside the local area. A Beaujolais or red Loire will work just great.
Cow’s milk cheese from the Aubrac, the far south of Le Massif Central. Aged from six months to a year. Thick, dry inedible gray-brown rind and a smooth and fine straw-coloured cheese paste within. Slightly sharp and complex taste. A great cheese that probably is hard to obtain. AOP since 1961.
To drink: East-side Bordeaux, but also red Rhône wines.
Salers, a farmstead cheese from Auvergne. It must be admitted that there is a lot of fine cheese made in the Auvergne area. Definitely a cow’s milk cheese this and only milk from Salers- and / or Montbeliarde cows will do. Made only only between approximately 15 April and 15 November, the period where the cows graze outside in the mountain range. The rest of the year the milk is used for the Cantal cheese. The cheese is named after the village of the same name. Strict rules for this cheese; ie a farmstead cheese where the farmer can only use milk from his own herd and make the cheese himself on the farm. Raw milk of course. Firm but at the same time with a somewhat softish texture. Tasting of spices and herbs with a sprinkling of flowers, but most notably barnyard. Also a very distinct salty flavour. Long aftertaste, and with maturity comes a certain sweet expression and nutty flavour. This is one of my favourites. Is probably not readily available, so you have to ask for it. AOP since 1961.
To drink: The locals drink a Côtes d’Auvergne. Is probably difficult to obtain outside the region, so I try Beaujolais, Valpolicella or red Loire.
Tomme de Savoie
A cow’s milk cheese from, as the name indicates, Savoie in the French Alps. Tomme is generic and means that the cheese is round, but often, though not always, cheese with Tomme in their name comes from the Savoie regions. Pressed and stored for at least one month. Hard gray brown rind, but underneath you’ll find a nice Khaki-coloured cheese. Smooth consistency. Light earthy aroma and a fine nutty flavour. No AOP protection, but IGP.
To drink: Red Rhone and Burgundians. Mondeuse from the Savoie region.