World Cheese Encyclopaedia - Each Sunday learn all about a new cheese.
This week Saint Agur from France.
Country: France 🇫🇷
Region: Auvergne, Monts du Velay
Made from: Cow’s milk
Texture: Soft, creamy, spreadable
Taste: Sharp, buttery, spicy, tangy
Aging: 2 months
Saint Agur is a blue cheese from the Monts du Velay, part of the mountainous Auvergne region of central France. It is made from pasteurised cow's milk, enriched with cream, and contains 60% butterfat, which qualifies it as a double-cream cheese and gives it its unique flavour and texture.
The interior paste of the cheese is rich with blue-green mould veins throughout. The texture is creamy and smooth, softer and less crumbly than other blues and both spreads and melts well due to being a double-cream cheese. Its taste is rich, buttery and creamy with a mild tangy spiciness. It is less salty than more traditional blue cheeses and has a very balanced flavour which doesn’t overpower with sharpness.
The milk used to make Saint Agur comes mostly from local Montbéliarde cows within the Haute Loire dairy. Each cheese is salted by hand during production to help bring out its unique flavour. It uses vegetable rennet and is therefore suitable for vegetarians. During the first few weeks of aging, the cheese is regularly pierced with needles to allow oxygen to enter and to help the development of the blue mould veins. Finally, Saint Agur is ripened for ten weeks in a strictly controlled environment at the right temperature and moisture levels to develop its distinct taste and texture.
Saint Agur is produced in 2 kg octagonal cylinders, a shape that makes it easy to cut into wedges. Each five-pound octagonal wheel requires about five gallons of cow’s milk for production. It has no rind and the octagonal wheels are covered in foil. It can also be purchased in smaller pre-packed wedges.
Saint Agur has won many medals including a silver at the 2014 World Cheese Awards.
Saint Agur was first made in 1988 in the Velay Mountains in the Haute-Loire region of France. It was created by the Savencia Fromage & Dairy, which dates back to 1920. The dairy’s founder Jean-Noel Bongrain, inherited the business, which was then called Fromagerie d’Illoud when he was only 19 years old. He soon began to develop the business in a new direction, away from traditional French cheeses. He came up with the idea to have a nationally branded cheese, something that did not exist at that time in France and went on to create the first nationally branded cheese, Caprice des Dieux, in 1956.
Bongrain also expanded his sales beyond France, selling cheese in markets such as Germany, Switzerland, Austria, and Italy. Savencia Fromage & Dairy is now one of France’s largest cheese and dairy producers, operating production facilities in 24 countries around the world.
There is no actual saint named Saint Agur, the name seemingly was developed just for this particular cheese.
How to Enjoy It
Saint Agur is a great addition to any cheeseboard and tastes delicious with pears, walnuts, or figs. It has the tanginess of blue but as it is a double cream cheese it is mild enough to suit many tastes. As it melts and spreads well, it can also be used in many recipes. Pair Saint Agur with wines such as a Brouilly, Jurancon, Chardonnay, Syrah, or a glass of nice port wine.
Sources: Wikipedia, cheese.com, saintagur.co.uk, culturecheesemag.com, savencia-fromagedairy.com, decanter.com
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