Abbaye de Tamié
As the name indicates this cheese is made at a monastery, l’abbaye de Notre-Dame de Tamié in the Savoy (Savoie) region of eastern France bordering Italy and Switzerland. The monastery is situated 900 meters above sea level at the eastern periphery of the Bauge mountain range. Made from raw cow’s milk, with a washed rind.
Reblochon style, but the flavor is more expressed than the Reblochon. The monastery receives their milk from 14 farms in the vicinity, i.e. the Tamié valley. They make cheese every day from about 4200 litres of milk. The cheese is aged at 14 degrees centigrade for three to four weeks in their own cellars. The “real” cheese comes in wheels of 1,5 kg, but they also make a smaller one; 550 – 600 g. Wrapped in paper, easily recognizable by the blue print and the Maltese cross as a kind of logo. The rind tends towards saffron yellow, while the paste is beige with a smooth and creamy texture with small holes. Natural milk aroma with a fruity and delicate taste.
To drink: Whites from the Savoie region works well, as do Trappist beer.
Abbaye de Citeaux
A cow’s milk cheese from the monastery by the same name located just south of Dijon in France. This is the “mother-cheese” to the Norwegian Munkeby. Abbaye de Citeaux is not very well known outside of France, but a good and reputable cheese anyway. Reblochon style. The cheese is as soft as it looks and you notice when you get it in your mouth. Unlike many other washed rind cheeses is this very mild with creamy texture and taste. This is now made from thermised milk, while it used to be unpasteurized.
To drink: In Burgundy they will favor a red from the Saint-Romain area, but a Beaujolais Village will also work very well. Alternatively, since this is made in a monastery, why not try beer; Trappist beer for instance. A Blonde.
L’Ami du Chambertin
A cow’s milk cheese from Burgundy. A very young cheese, made the first time in 1946 and has a funny story that is worth exploring for those with special interests. The name originated as a nickname after the founder of the cheese factory, Raymond Gaugry took some of his cheese around the vineyards in the area for cheese and wine tasting. This way they found out that the cheese went well with local wines which, it should be noted, is also quite fashionable. Thus came the name “Chambertin-friend” – L’Ami du Chambertin. It is an Epoisses style from the very same area in Burgundy. This is a washed rind cheese that strangely enough since 2008 has been made of pasteurized milk. It could of course have something to do with export to the United States. The cheese is washed in Marc de Bourgogne (Marc is the French answer to Grappa) and it shows when you eat it. Milder than Epoisses but otherwise very similar. Fromagerie Gaugry makes Epoisses as well.
To drink: Red Burgundy, Chambertin, or at least a village Gevrey or Côte de Nuits and Côte de Beaune.
Brun de Noix
Brun de Noix is a semi firm raw cow’s milk cheese washed with walnut liqueur from the Beillevaire dairy in Machecoul southwest of Nantes. The cheese has a cream colored paste, Rind is borown from being washed with walnut liqueur. Distinct taste of nut and milk.
To drink: A red Chinon.
Le Carré de l’Est
As indicated by the name; a square cheese from the east, which in this instance means Lorraine. Very light, washed rind. Very soft, almost runny even straight from the fridge. Moderate smell for a wshed rind cheese, while the taste somewhat oppulent, but very balanced with a touch of milk nuances.
To drink: A light and fruity red will work excellently, such as a Beaujolais.
Le Carré du Vinage
Square this one as well. Farmstead washed rind cheese from raw Holstein milk from the Valleé de la Lys north of Lille in northern France. Washed with brine and the rind appears very sticky, but with some geotrichum to balance the whole thing off. Matured for 30 days at 6℃. Oppulent smell, but the taste is mild.
To drink: A light and fruity red, from Beaujolais or the Loire. Alternatively a Gewurztraminer from Alsace.
Chaumes is a cow’s milk cheese from the Dordogne area in south-west France. This is a relatively common cheese and usually pasteurized. Check if you can get it unpasteurized. Washed rind cheese this also, with a distinctive golden soft crust with a clear tangerine-orange color. The cheese is smooth with slightly rubbery consistency. A nutty and slightly meaty taste, but a very mild cheese. A cheese children may well enjoy. Melts well.
To drink: Dry white wines. Ale or dry cider, the cider may well be carbonated.
A washed rind cow’s milk cheese from the western part of the Loire; the Nantes area. Originally a farm dairy cheese, but now made at dairies in the area according to the original recipe. Saint-Paulin style that is also originally from the Loire valley, but the Curé Nantais is more oppulent.
To drink: Muscadet sur lie from the same area or Gros Plant. Chenin Blanc as well, dry though.
Unpasteurized or pasteurized cow’s milk cheese from Burgundy. AOP since 1991. Washed with Marc de Bourgogne which gives a special flavor. Aged at least four weeks. Soft rind with a hint of orange that gets darker with age, so typical for washed rind cheeses. Creamy with an intense pungent aroma, but with a slender, smooth taste that makes your mouth water.
To drink: White wine on the sweet side, but also white or red Burgundy. Want a light red wine; try a village wine from the Rhône.
Fine rind, brownish and white striped. The brown from the walnut liqueur the cheese is washed with, and the white stripes from Geotrichum candidum. Semi firm with a few small, scattered holes. Paste is towards the yellow. Raw cow’s milk cheese from the farm La Ferme de Vinage in Roncq, just north of Lille, right on the Belgian border. Mild, sweet flavour where the walnut liqueur is distinct, but in not dominant. A fine cheese that will represent a variation on your cheese plate.
To drink: A red Chinon (from Loire).
A cow’s milk cheese from Champagne-Ardenne. AOP since 1991 Washed rind and matured for up to two months. Has a clear orange coloured and very edible rind. Dense texture and a rich cream taste with light acidic overtones. Also used to be raw, but alas those days are past, that means you can get both variants. Characteristic of its well at the top because it is not turned during maturation. Coloured with anatto. Pour some Champagne or Marc de Champagne in the well before you serve it.
To drink: Champagne, of course, but also full-bodied white burgundy. If you are alternative and at a men’s club; try a Marc de Champagne.
Cow milk cheese from Normandy. Raw milk, pasteurized or thermized. AOP since 1975 Washed rind and stored up to three months before being sold. It has a smooth orange rind tied up with three to five bands around the cheese on the side. Pale yellow cheese with a few scattered holes. Soft fine texture with rich lightly spiced taste and intense aroma. Pungent. One of the cheeses that makes my family wish for a separate cheese fridge.
To drink: Young Chardonnay with this one, or sweet wines such as Barsac or Vouvray. Do you prefer something stronger, try Calvados. If you want to copy the locals; drink dry cider.
A Reblochon style cheese from the village Manigod in Haut-Savoie. A real farm dairy cheese made at a few farms in Manigod and matured by Joseph Paccard. Somewhat taller and wider than a traditional Reblochon and has a spruce belt around its waist. Made of raw cows’ milk, from the local breeds Abondance, Tarine and Montbéliarde. Matured for 60 days. Very Reblochon-ish, even though it has a little bit more of everything, probably because of a longer maturing period. Washed rind. Flavour reminds me of hay, mushrooms and coniferous.
To drink: A local white or red.
A semi firm cow’s milk cheese from the Picardy and Nord-Pas-de-Calais region in northwestern France. The cheese is sold packed in rectangular boxes. Orange rind that is damp and smells quite strongly. Being matured from two weeks to about four months. Farmstead variety is always raw, so look for it, at least in specialty cheese shops. Maroilles is at its best between May and August, matured eight to ten weeks. This is a cheese for the connoisseur as it develops strong barnyard aromas and a tight but good taste. AOP since 1976.
To drink: Champagne but also Gewürztraminer Vendage Tardive (late harvest). Marc de Bourgogne or Marc de Champagne will work fine for those who want something stronger. A Brown ale also pairs well for those who swear to beer.
Moelleux du Revard
A washed rind cheese from the Savoie, more exact the village Trévignin, just outside Aix-les-Bains. It’s not a very old cheese this, made for the first time in 2008, but the recipe is old, as this is originally a Vacherin des Bauges, made only at a couple of farms and a small dairy, and is about to become “extinct”. The dairy lies by the foothills of the mountain Revard, so that’s where the name comes from. Semi firm cow’s milk cheese, and a belt of spruce around the “waist”. Made by the Schmidhauser family, that has three small dairies in the area. Interesting rind as it is a mix between Brevibacterium linens and Geotrichum candidum makes it well worth a study. Paste is off-white with inconsistent holes. Texture reminds me of processed cheese, gooey in a way. Distinct smell and flavour. A very good cheese in my opinion, excellent on a cheese platter, but also with some butter on a slice of country bread.
To drink: A cuppa good tea. Nicolais Godin Isère Persan, if you’re looking for an exciting, local red wine.
Unpasteurized cow’s milk cheese from the Jura area on both the French and Swiss side of the border. Is called Vacherin du Haut-Doubs and made of raw milk when French and Vacherin Mont d’Or and thermized milk when Swiss. Washed rind and matured for five to seven weeks. Available from September to March. The rest of the year the milk used to make firm alpine cheese. Always packed in a small box of wood. Dusty white edible rind with orange stripes. The paste is off-white. Sweet and mild taste, soft initially and becomes very runny if it is left on the kitchen counter. 20 minutes in the oven, 180 degrees centigrade, cut off the top, eat with a spoon. Wonderful. AOP since 1981.
To drink: Great whites from the Jura og red Rully from Burgundy. Alternatively Savigny-les-Beaunes.
One of my favourites. A raw cow’s milk cheese from Alsace. Milk from cows that graze in the Vosges mountains. A washed rind cheese matured for three to six weeks. Important to get a cheese that is made on a farm; i.e. fermier. Orange-yellow to reddish exterior and a light golden, soft and smooth interior. Certainly an edible rind, but it tends to become a bit “gritty” with age. When it becomes crunchy between my teeth; I cut it away. Comes in different sizes. Fantastic nice and rich flavour. Generally accepted as a stinker if there is anything called that. Do not store it for long in your refrigerator, it will make its mark. The locals serve this cheese with cumin and often boiled potatoes as well. AOP since 1969.
To drink: Alsace Gewürztraminer or if you are slightly more modern, an Alsace riesling.
Cow milk cheese from the Loire Valley. Washed and pressed, then stored for one month. Bright orange rind that you should not eat. The paste is pale yellow. Smooth and supple texture and a very mild, almost delicate taste. Note!! This is an original Trappist cheese, but today hardly anything but commercial and incredibly bad copies are available.
To drink: Red Loire wines or Beaujolais. This is a typical Trappist cheese, so it may also fit well with a not so pronounced trappist beer.
Raw cow’s milk cheese from the coast of Normandy. AOP since 1972. Name and shape designed to distinguish it from Livarot. Washed rind, soft cheese that matures for six weeks. Square and comes in a wooden box. Lightly orange-brown on the outside but creamy and pale yellow on the inside. Soft and round pleasant flavour, wonderful texture and pronounced aroma. Also belongs to the slightly pungent soft cheeses.
To drink: A red wine cheese this. Merlot based wines such as St. Emilion and Pomerol. For white; try a Pinot Gris Tokay d’Alsace. Cider of course, since it comes from Normandy. Calvados if you want to try a stronger brew. An Assam tea with milk will also be fine.
Cow’s milk cheese from the Rhône-Alpes region. Washed rind and stored for six weeks up to two months. The rind is whitish with a little hint of Geotricum growth and a pale yellow curd. Rather light in colour to be washed. Soft and creamy texture, distinct herbal aroma, with a pronounced nutty flavour. One of the oldest AOP cheeses with protection since 1958.
To drink: Exquisite white Burgundies or Chablis. Light fruity reds from Beaujolais or Loire, but also east side Bordeaux if you want a slightly fuller body.
A washed rind cheese from Burgundy different from Epoisses in that it is washed in pure brine only. Often and especially locally, eaten young. Comes in a wooden box. Texture is soft and silky. Aroma’s pungent but flavour is mild with hints of sweetness. This cheese will actually benefit from a gentle sprinkle of ground pepper. As a variation; warm it and have it with a green salad and warm croutons. Soumaintrain is PGI protected (Protected Geographical Indication) (IGP in French) since July 2016. May be made from both raw and pasteurised cows’ milk. Farmstead variants usually from raw milk. Fromagerie Gaugry is making both, though.
To drink: Well made Chablis, 1. Cru or better. If you prefer red, a Côte de Beaune or a Beaujolais Village if you’re after some more fruit.
A Reblochon style from a local cooperative dairy, Fruitière du Plateau Arboisien, in Arbois, Jura. A mild and fine cheese with a clear milk character. Gently salted. Made from raw cows’ milk and only sold locally. Very suitable for Tartiflette, or as it is with boiled potatoes and the local sausage Saucisse de Morteau.
To drink: What grows together goes together, so Jura, in other words. Chardonnay. Pick and choose.
Semi firm goat milk cheese from the Bethmale valley, Ariege, the Pyrenées. Washed rind. From raw milk, but can also be pasteurised and there is a variety from cow’s milk and sometimes a blend appears. Ivory coloured paste, with small irregular holes. Mild, buttery taste, with a fine sweetness. Creamy. A very good cheese that you may well eat just as it is, but some country bread will add to the experience. Made from spring and through the autumn.
To drink: Red wine with fruit and tannins, do not overdo it, though. Bordeaux is not too far away and seems like a good pairing, but avoid too much oak.
A raw goat milk cheese from the Loubières area in Occitanie, south of France, that is. Marvellous cheese, semi soft to soft Mont d’Or style and similar make. Like Vacherin d’Areches (see below) it has more character than the cheese it has been inspired by. Well worth learning to know. 20 minutes in the oven at 180 degrees Centigrade. Voila!
To drink: A dry white from the Languedoc-Roussillon area, such as for instance Pinet Picpoul.
Le petit Fiancé des Pyrénées
A farm dairy cheese that is made on two farms in Loubières in the departement of Ariège, south of France. The Pyrenées in other words. Washed rind with a touch of annatto added for the colour, but also a fair amount of Geotrichum candidum which reduces the colour intensity of the annatto. Reblochon style made of goat’s milk and slightly firmer than the original. Meaty and gooey texture. Rind is something between soft and firm and is edible, by all means. Might be hard to find outside France.
To drink: Try a Pinot Gris from Alsace.
Formerly known as Vacherin d’Arêches, a soft to semi soft washed rind cheese of raw goat’s milk. A real farm dairy cheese from the Beaufort mountain range in Savoie. The farm dairy is situated 1300 meters above sea level and the goats are free to wander around up to 2300 meters above sea level finding whatever pasture is suitable. The culture used for the cheesemaking is the same as for Mont d’Or. This cheese is matured by Mons in their caves at Saint Haon le Châtel.
To drink: A white from the Savoie. Excellent wines, but not well known.
An artisan cheese from the Cévennes mountains in Le Massif Central, more exact Hures la Parade. The cheese is characterised by a band of spruce around it. Shape is oval. Very soft and agile texture with a slight coniferous taste. Matured for two weeks, but sometimes three. Could also bear the name Le Claousou or Lou Claousou (not to be mixed up with Lou Rocaillou). This is also a Mont d’Or style cheese. Soft and runny so the spruce band comes in handy to keep it all in place.
To drink: A light and fruity red, such as Beaujolais. Alternatively a red from the Roanne, technically upper Loire. Same grape; Gamay.