World Cheese Encyclopaedia - Each Sunday learn all about a cheese in season.
This week Brebis Pyrenees from France.
Country: France 🇫🇷
Made from: Sheep's Milk
Taste: nutty with mild liquorice
Aging: 90 days
Brebis Pyrenees is a traditional, unpasteurised, semi-hard cheese. The generic name for this cheese is Ossau-Iraty. Made from ewe's milk, it comes from the picturesque mountains of Pyrenees, which divides France and Spain geographically and holds a fertile grazing land for milk-giving ewes. It has a mildly liquorices taste as an impression of Ossau Valley. Made in the Basque country and the Bearn region of France's Pyrenees Mountains, this small-scale pasteurized cheese is produced from floral sheep milk and given a half year to deepen in flavor. The ivory paste is firm but smooth with toothsome butterfat. With sweet, nearly caramelly, grassy, and nutty undertones, Brebis can handle full bodied reds.
Maturation process takes at least 90 days, 60 days for the small version. The temperature of the cellar must be below 12 C. This uncooked and pressed cheese has semi-hard texture. The rind varies from brown to orange with a white creamy and buttery paste. AOC in 1980, Ossau Iraty cheese produced by Agour Fromagerie of France was honoured at the World Cheese Awards in London. The cheese is full of a delicious, nutty, robust taste if it is produced during the period from June to September when the herds move up to the high mountain meadows.
The cheeses from the South of France have been made in this way for over four thousand years. The oldest known version is Roncal which comes from the Basque region in Northern Spain. Battenkill Brebis, like the sheep’s milk, name controlled cheese Ossau-Iraty from the Pyrenees, has a slightly higher moisture content than Roncal.
This style of cheesemaking became of interest to American cheesemakers after Vermont Shepherd, founded by Cindy and David Major began making perennial, award-winning cheese in 1990. They were the first U.S. cheesemakers to construct a natural cheese cave, which they built in the side of hill on their Vermont farm. They studied Brebis cheese making in the Pyrenees among skilled cheesemakers and brought a grand tradition to the States. Many Vermont sheep’s milk cheesemakers apprenticed and produced cheese for VT Shepherd. This made them pioneers in the American cheesemaking business, educating cheesemakers and sustaining public interest in Pyrenees cheeses.
How to enjoy it
A classic wine pairing is Madiran or Cahors (same grape as Malbec) which are both made in the Pyrenees region of France. It goes well with wines such as Madiran, Bearn-Bellocq, Jurancon and Irouleguy.
Source: www.cheese.com, Murray’s cheese, The Cheese Traveller