If you like cheese, you’re probably familiar with Comté, the French semi-hard cheese made from unpasteurized cow’s milk. The Montbeliard cow is the only breed of cattle whose milk is authorized for making Comté. Produced for hundreds of years, Comté is still traditionally made in more than 190 cheese dairies, known as the “fruitières” in the Jura region of eastern France. The Jura plateau of the Franche-Comté is the most mountainous (and coldest) region of France, stretching from the eastern edge of Burgundy, through the foothills of the French Alps and to the border with Switzerland.
It is the first French AOC (label of origin) cheese, guaranteeing the quality of the cheese. Each 40 kilo (about 88 lb.) wheel of Comté is made from the milk of many different small farms from within 15 miles distance only. The milk is collected at a fruitière, where it is transformed into cheese under strictly controlled conditions. After its fabrication, the huge wheels of cheese are transferred to a limited number of cellars spread across the region, where they will age anywhere from 4 – 18 months. Comté is the most popular AOC cheese in France, and it is said that there are more than 83 distinct flavors in Comté, including apricot, chocolate, butter, cream, and grilled bread. Some cheeses also have strong hazelnut flavors, while others have subtle hints of nutmeg. The taste is variable depending on the age and the season of the milk. It’s typically described as salty, mild, and fruity. Jura wines make a classic pairing for Comté, as well as Rieslings, Muscats, Gewürztraminers, and many of the softer red Bordeaux blends. Wine pairings? Dry whites and lighter reds seem to work beautifully with Comté.
Join us for a look this fascinating process. We’ll learn some of the history of this region, and what makes this part of France special, but more importantly, how all of this translates to the Comté cheese itself.
Part 1 – Milk – Video 92
Part 2 – Cheesemaking – Video 93
Part 3 – Aging – Video 94
Part 4 – Cutting/Storing – Video 95
Part 5 Tasting – Video 96
Part 6 – Wine Pairing – Video 97
Part 7 – Comté Fondue – Video 98