World Cheese Encyclopaedia - Each Sunday learn all about a cheese in season.
This week Valençay from France.
Country: France 🇫🇷
Region: Berry, Loire Valley
Made from: Goat 's Milk
Texture: creamy, runny, smooth and soft-ripened
Aging: 3 weeks
Valençay cheese is one of the classic French mold ripened "chèvres" made in the province of Berry in central France. It is named after the town of Valençay in the Indre department, France. The young goat's milk cheese is distinguished by its truncated pyramid form and its layer of ash underlying the surface's bloomy white rind.
This cheese comes in two types: the one coated with wood ash and produced on farms is called Valençay Fermier while the other coated with vegetable ash and made in dairies or industries is called Valençay Laitier.
Production of Valençay involves the drained curd being placed in a mold before being removed and coated with salted charcoal ashes (medicinal charcoal). Cheeses are then placed in a chilled drying room at 80% humidity to encourage the growth of the white penicillium candidum mold. Affinage lasts for three weeks during which time its characteristic external mould forms and the central pate - initially crumbly - softens. It is available usually between March and December, with peak manufacture between April and August.
The texture of Valençay is smooth and dense with a mild, lemony, and altogether clean, bright flavor.
Valençay cheese used to have a shape of a perfect pyramid with a pointed top. But legend has it that when Napoleon returned to the castle of Valencay after his unsuccessful expedition in Egypt, he saw the cheese, and in a fit of rage drew his sword and cut off the top of the cheese. Since then the cheese has always been made with a flattened top.
How to enjoy it
Valençay pairs very well with crisp, dry white wines such as Sauvignon Blanc.
Source: Cheese.com, culturecheesemag.com, Wikipedia