Comté Grand Cru of Cheese
- Producer – Marcel Petit
- Origin -France
- Milk Type -Cow
- Ageing - 18 months
Comté is truly the elder statesman of French cheese being one
of the first styles to receive AOC status back in 1958.
This unpasteurised cheese is not made in a traditional way, with
a fromagerie producing or buying local milk and turning it into
cheese themselves, but is similar to the Burgundian negociant
method of wine production – essentially co-operative farming.
There are around 170 dairy farms in the Jura-Massif region of the
French Alps, and each can only process milk sourced from within
an 8 mile radius of the dairy. Each individual dairy then makes its
own cheese from this local milk, though still working collabora-
tively using the same traditional production methods. This
means that every huge wheel of Comté will be slightly different,
reflecting the individual terroir of the dairy where it is produced.
Only once the cheese is made and ready for maturation is it sent
to the incredible cellars of Marcel Petite and his team of
affineurs. Here the cheese is aged in an old fort built into the
side of the mountains until ready to release.
This is a Gruyere style of cheese, hard but with a smooth,
buttery texture. Every wheel is slightly different, but will show
classic rich, nutty flavours with a touch of caramel/ brown butter
sweetness. Its ability to melt means that it can be used in many
dishes, from a classic fondue to the perfect toasted sandwich.
Comté fact of the day
The head of the cheese tasters who determine when each
wheel of cheese is ready for sale is known as the chef de
cave. This person spends their day ‘ringing’ the cheese – a
ritual that involves stroking the cheese in a circular motion,
assessing the crust and then tapping the cheese from the
centre outwards with his cheese iron. Only after all this hard
work do they get to taste it!
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