Le Tastevin Wine Club - Notes on Cheeses – April 17, 2013
Comté and Morbier are considered to be perfect cheeses to match with Burgundian wines, so much so that many wine lovers assume they must be from Burgundy. Au Contraire! They are alpine mountain wines from the slopes of the Jura Mountains. The only Burgundian cheese of note occasionally available here is Epoisses de Bourgogne, a soft, washed rind cheese with a distinct stinky cheese aroma, usually available only in 8 ounce wheels. In its place I have substituted Morbier.
Comté (con- TAY; raw cow's milk, firm) - one of the world's greatest cheeses, made in the Jura Mountains of eastern France, near Switzerland. (Our sample is from Les Trois Comtois, made by Fromageries Arnaud, in their underground facility in Fort des Rousse (a 200 year old fort built by Napoleon!). We recently sampled Comté from Marcel Petite, Affineur, at Fort Saint-Antoine, which is a slightly sweeter, softer cheese. Comté is a firm unpasteurized cheese from the raw milk of Montbeliard cows grazing on summer alpine grass. The rind is considered inedible. Before it can be sold it must pass an evaluation to get the Comté label, and must receive a grade of 12 (out of 20). Our sample was graded a 15, thus receiving the green Comté stamp. The wheels average 90 pounds (that is 140 gallons of milk) and are aged up to 2 years. The color darkens with age (ours was aged 15 months), and ranges from ivory to gold. Like Swiss Gruyère (gree-AIR), Comté has a fruity, hazeinutty, and buttery flavor, and is dotted with "eyes", although the flavor is sweeter and mellower, and more intense than its Swiss cousins. Comté is a versatile cheese, marvelous when melted, and works well with German Rieslings as well as being able to soften the edge on big red wines. It pairs especially well with light reds such as cru Beaujolais, Pinot Noirs and Burgundies.
Morbier (Livradois Montboissie; raw cow' smilk, soft) - originally made by the cheesemakers of Comté, Morbier comes from high mountain pastures in the Jura Mountains. It is made from the curd of two milkings, 12 hours apart, then separated by sterile milk ash, which once was used to prevent a rind from forming on the first layer of the milk and to protect from pests, but now is purely decorative. It is a cheese with a pungent smell and a marvelous rich flavor. The rind is natural and rubbed, and the mild pate' is subtle and sweet. Great with crusty bread and big white wines and is a classic partner for lush Côtes du Rhônes, Burgundies, and most Syrah-based wines as well as big fruity white wines such as Viogner.Page last updated: December 18, 2016 (EB)