World Cheese Encyclopaedia - Each Sunday learn all about a new cheese.
This week Gour Noir from France.
Country: France 🇫🇷
Made from: Goat’s milk
Texture: Crumbly, thick, creamy
Taste: Goaty, tangy, mild
Aging: 2 – 6 weeks
Gour Noir is a raw goat's milk ash-covered cheese from Lapleau, in the Auvergne region of France. It is made by the Arnaud family from the milk of their herd of snowy white Saanens goats.
Gour Noir is charcoal colored on the outside due to being covered in ash, with a creamy white paste. The outside is wrinkly due to the development of mold. The cheese is made in a unique leaf shape. The texture of the paste ranges from delicate and mousse-like to thick and creamy, and even a bit runny when served at room temperature.
The flavor of Gour Noir depends on the age of the cheese. In a younger cheese, the flavor is milder, more milky, with a lactic tang and a hint of salty goat flavor. As it ages, the taste intensifies and can become sharper and more robust.
The production of Gour Noir involves careful handling and draining of the curds and then a relatively short aging process. The milk for production is first pasteurized. Gour Noir gets its unique color because of being « ash-coated ». This actually involves coating the cheese with “sel cendré” during the production process. “Sel cendré” is a combination of salt and charcoal powder. Coating the cheese with it helps to preserve and protect the cheese and this practice is often used for French goat cheeses.
Gour Noir is made by the Arnaud family, in caves in Corrèze. The family and their herd of goats have been there since 1979. They created Gour Noir cheese with its distinctive leaf shape and ash color in the early 1990s. The cheese is said to be named after the hamlet where the Arnaud family live named « Roc du Gour Noir ». As the production is quite small, this cheese can be difficult to find but is well worth buying when you do. It is a delicious and flavorful cheese.
How to Enjoy It
Gour Noir is available all year round, but as with many goat cheeses, it is said to be best in the late spring and summer. The reason is that the goats have a more varied diet at this time of the year than they do in winter, as in summer they graze in the high mountain pastures. The varied summer diet gives the cheese more flavor.
Enjoy Gour Noir on its own with a baguette or as part of a cheese board with grapes and other fruit. Pair it with a light red wine also from the Auvergne region such as a Chateaumeillant made from Gamay and Pinot Noir.
Sources: fromages.com, thetomatoknife.com, ayearinfromage.com, culturecheesemag.com, Domaine Joffre.
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