World Cheese Encyclopaedia - Each Sunday learn all about a cheese in season.
This week Le Chevrot from France.
Country: France 🇫🇷
Region: Loire Valley
Made from: Goat's Milk
Pasteurised: both pasteurized and unpasteurized versions
Texture: creamy, dense and firm
Taste: herbaceous, nutty, strong
Aging: 2 weeks – 30 days
Le Chevrot, an unquestionably superb goat’s milk cheese, is handmade by Serve & Belle dairy near the province of Poitou, which borders the Loire Valley to the southwest. This region has been long renowned for its high quality goat cheese. Goats were first introduced to the area with the arrival of the Saracens in the eighth century together with their recipes for goat's cheeses. Fortunately for us all, both the goats and the cheese knowledge remained after the invaders were forced to leave.
Le Chevrot has a supple, lush quality, an inviting aroma of ripe figs and a fresh, buttery, slightly nutty, and faintly fermented (wine-like) taste. You’ll find this cheese encased in a wrinkly rind that is edible; in fact, eating the rind strengthens the flavor of Le Chevrot. The cheese itself is moderately aged and is an example of an excellent compromise between mild taste and rich texture. Its flavor intensifies when grilled, and in fact, broiled chèvre is the basis of the delicious chèvre salad popular throughout France.
Le Chevrot is produced in both pasteurized and raw milk versions. Aged for at least two weeks, the cheeses have an edible, natural, geotricum rind that gives the Le Chevrot a wrinkled appearance. The interior texture is smooth, dense and quite firm. Cheeses can be sold either young or aged.
The particular aging of this cheese - it might look old, but it's actually quite a young goat cheese - makes Chevrot's flavor incredibly complex and rich. It's not too pungent or "goaty", so this is a perfect goat cheese for even those who claim not to like goat cheese.
Young Le Chevrot has an off-white, slightly wrinkled rind. When very young, the cheese has a gentle, aromatic, yeasty taste and a fine, moist texture. Younger versions have a milder flavor that is reminiscent of herbs, barnyard, toasted nuts and hay. The texture has a higher moisture content and is quite dense while the color of the interior paste is a bone-white, becoming darker towards the rind.
As it gets older, the interior softens and the flavor becomes nuttier and fuller-bodied. At its peak age the cheese is denser and creamier, and there is a fruity tinge to the taste.
Flavors in older cheeses intensify, while still remaining balanced, and often develop hints of caramel. The flavors of barnyard and goat become stronger while the texture of the cheese becomes drier over time, and the color of the paste darkens.
The lush valley of the Loire River in central France is rich in history, architecture and cuisine. Its sophisticated cities, luxuriant landscapes, magnificent foods and superb wines create a paradise for locals and tourists. Orléans, capital of the Loire departement was France’s intellectual capital in the 13th century, attracting artists, poets and troubadours to the Royal Court. But this medieval court was fickle in their fancies, never staying in one place for long, which led to the building of magnificent châteaux all along the Loire River. The region is renowned for these regal relics of royal days gone by, as well as its vast array of vineyards and wines. The Loire Valley is particularly famous for its goat’s milk cheeses. They come in a wide array of shapes—you’ll find everything from pyramids, wheels, truncated cones, hearts, logs and cylinders. This style of cheese was probably introduced to the region in the 8th century, when the Saracen (as Muslims were known at the time) invaders from Spain reached the southern banks of the Loire River. Most of the invaders were later repelled, but some remained with their goat herds, ultimately providing the foundation for their famous goat cheeses or chèvres, which means “goats” in French.
How to enjoy it
Le Chevrot pairs well with French champagnes or white wines such as Pouilly-Fume or Sancerre from the Loire Valley.
Source: www.cheese.com, CultureCheeseMag.com, The Gourmet Cheese of the Month Club, GourmetFoodStore.com