Though best known for its bubbly, the cheeses of the Champagne region are also not to be sniffed at. Starting with Chaource. This cow's milk cheese hails from an area stretching from Troyes to Tonnerre, south-east of Paris. It is characterized by a lengthy coagulation process which gives it its very lactic, creamy notes on ripening. Perfect on its own, or in a gratin, etc.
What you need to know
Chaource. A village and a cheese, named after it. Seems simple on paper. In practice, there is a little more to it. At least in terms of production. According to the AOC label awarded to this cheese in 1970, followed by a PDO label in 1996, it must be produced with a minimum of milk from cows born within the appellation area. The farms registered supply more than 75% of the animals' feed. The cattle mainly graze for over five months of the year and supplements are limited. This excellent milk is brought to a temperature of 25 to 35 °C (77 to 95 °F) and rennet is added. It is then left to coagulate for at least twelve hours. At the end of this period, the curds are gently cut and transferred to perforated molds to drain spontaneously and naturally. After nearly 48 hours, the cheeses are removed from their molds, salted and then left to dry in a ventilated room for around 24 hours. Next comes the ripening phase, which lasts at least 14 days. That's how long it takes for the rind to develop and for the lactic flavors to gradually emerge.
How to use
In the refrigerator, sealed in the original box and wrapping, to prevent the cheese from drying out.
Take the Chaource out of the refrigerator 30 minutes before serving, to release its flavors.
There is no doubt its creamy notes go beautifully with sourdough, but Chaource can also be enjoyed sliced on top of a quiche or a gratin, in a cream sauce for a poultry dish, crumbled over an endive salad, or diced in a squash puree.
Black grapes, honey, dried fruits on your plate, and a Bourgogne-Vézelay, Rosé-des-Riceys, or Champagne in your glass!