World Cheese Encyclopaedia - Each Sunday learn all about a new cheese.
This week Langres from France.
Country: France 🇫🇷
Made from: Cow’s milk
Texture: Semi-soft, crumbly, firm to runny
Taste: Salty, creamy, tangy, hazelnut tones
Certification: AOC, AOP
Aging: at least 5 weeks
Langresis a French cow’s milk cheese from the plateau of Langres in the region of Champagne-Ardenne. It is similar to Époisses de Bourgogne cheese but less pungent. It is in a small cylinder shape, about 11 cms wide and 4 cms high.
Langres is produced using a slow maturation of the milk to obtain a lactic type curd. During production, the cheeses are regularly washed with salt water (brine), either by hand or using a damp cloth. A red dye extracted from the rocou (seeds of the American annatto tree) gives the cheese its natural orange colour. For aging, the cheeses are placed in humid cellars and are usually ripened for 5 to 6 weeks.
The shape of Langres cheese is cylindrical with a deep well on the top. Its characteristic shape is a result of its maturation process. It is never turned over during maturation, which causes a hollow to form in the top of the cheese, that deepens as the cheese drains. This hollow is called the "fontaine" in French – meaning “the fountain”. Some aficionados of the cheese fill “the fountain” with Marc de Champagne which is a brandy made as a by-product of the Champagne making process, using the discarded seeds and skins.
It is what some call a “stinky cheese” with a strong odour. However, the taste of Langres is distinct and pleasant but not aggressive. It tastes salty, buttery, and tangy. The rind is sticky with a natural orange colour. Sometimes it forms a white down as the cheese ages caused by the Penicillium candidummold. The rind is delicious and can also be eaten. The paste is creamy next to the rind but remains firm and even a bit crumbly in the center.
Langres was granted Appellation d'originecontrôlée (AOC) in 1991 and protected designation of origin (AOP) in 1996.
Langres cheese has been produced in the Champagne region for a very long time. It can be traced back to at least the 13th century when it was mentioned in a song composed by the Dominican prior of the city of Langres. The first written reference to Langres was in 1874 in a book on cheese written by A. F. Pauriau, and it was quite popular in the late 19th century. After World War I production declined significantly but was revived in the 1950s. in 1981 a union of cheesemakers of Langres cheese was formed with the goal of obtaining AOC status. They achieved their goal in 1991.
How to Enjoy It
Langres is best enjoyed between May and August after 5 weeks of aging, but it is also excellent from March all the way through to December.
It is a wonderful addition to any cheese board but also goes well with a simple green salad. It pairs well with Champagne, Red Wine from Burgundy, or a Marc de Bourgogne or Champagne.
Sources: Wikipedia, cheese.com, fromages.com, The Globe & Mail, fromages-france.com, Vivino.com
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