March 10, 2010
La Fête du Fromage - La Marotte
It's a term used in the wine world to describe the individual characteristics - the essence of the soil, the climate - which create the unique flavors of a specific wine region.
The Wine Doctor explains it much better than I can, "There is much discussion of terroir, a French term which has no simple translation into English. It refers to the external influences on the ripening grapes, including the soils (depth and type), bedrock, exposure to sun and wind, water table and so on."
After almost three years of tasting le fromage français, I can tell you that the term terroir applies to cheese as well.
Think of Normandy with its renowned, lush and creamy Camembert and Pont-l’Evêque. Then there's the Loire Valley, famous for its seemingly endless variety of elegant, finely textured fromages de chèvre such as Valençay and Sainte-Maure de Touraine. And don't forget the buttery, nutty cow's milk cheeses from the Alps such as Comté and Vacherin du Haut Doubs.
But if it's fromages de brebis you're after, then you must head to central France, to the causses du Larzac, where you'll find some of the most heavenly ewe's milk cheeses. From the earthy Galette du Larzac, to the delightful Brebis du Larzac, to the velvety Pérail du Larzac. And we can't forget the region's most famous cheese, Roquefort.
La Marotte is another wonderful cheese from the Larzac that I have added to my favorites list.
It is produced from unpasteurized ewe's milk by a small cooperative of 18 families, La Coopérative des Bergers du Larzac. This tomme style cheese has a dense, chewy and slightly grainy pâte that is wrapped in a natural, moldy rind that houses a happy colony of cheese mites. (You might want to avoid eating the rind)
The medium-strong, nutty flavor has an earthy, tangy finish that left me craving more.
A robust red wine would be a good pairing with la Marotte.