For the past couple months we have repeatedly returned to Cotes d'Auvergne, France for new information about this historic wine production region. We have learned that most of its past two thousand year "recent" history has centered around food production and preparation. Now with Bleu d'Auvergne cheese in the store, it is time to examine its fromage and charcuterie history.
D'Auvergne, France is home to more AOC cheeses than any other appellation in France. The AOC cheese laws, like wine, legally define a cheese historically and geographically, making the poaching of a place name and applying it to a pretender, a crime. Charcuterie or "cooked flesh" is even more central to d'Auvergne's identity than fromage, with a long history of preserving meats before refrigeration. Bacon, ham, sausage, terrines and pates, and gallatines all have a historic home in d'Auvergne.
Bleu d'Auvergne was created in 1854 by one Antoine Roussel, a cheesemonger who accidentally contaminated his cheese product with a rye bread mold. Wouldn't you know it, it tasted good! Roussel began intentionally "needling" his cheese with the mold then aging it for four weeks in a cool, wet cellar and "voila" a star was born. Now needling is mechanical and the mold has been replaced by the mold, penicillium roqueforti, the same mold used in neighboring Roquefort, while the aging process remains about the same.
Bleu d'Auvergne has a strong and pungent aroma yet creamy and buttery flavor while maintaining a moist texture. It is used in salad dressings and pasta and marries well with big red wines like Cotes du Rhone or sweet whites like Sauternes or dessert Riesling and it also does well with sweeter malt beverages like Porter.
Food affinities include nuts, raw mushrooms, and apples.
Here is our vocabulary word for the day: oligo-elements. Not to worry, it just means trace elements and in our context it refers to the magnificent soil of d'Auvergne which goes back to its magnificent volcanic history and the good fortune of its inhabitants to inherit such fertile soils and exploit them for culinary purposes. Remember, some of the best chefs of France have come from d'Auvergne.
On Friday November 4th, Curtis Gauthier, a trained chef from New York, will be here at the store tasting out fine examples of Chardonnay, Merlot, Pinot Noir, Sauvignon Blanc, and Malbec. Mention this article at the tasting and your Bleu d'Auvergne is 20% off the regular price.