Comté is one of THE most classic French cheeses being produced. It is a firm mountain cheese and was among the first to be awarded protected status.
Production in France dates back to the 12th Century, it started as an Emmental style cheese with holes but over the years it was developed into a denser cheese more in the style of a Gruyere, perfect for using the rich milk from the Montbéliarde cows.
For a cheese to be called Comté and achieve AOC status it must be made with milk from cows of the Montbéliarde (95%) and Simmental (5%) breeds. It must also be made within the regions of Doubs, Jura and Ain in the French Alps. Lastly the cow feed has to be from pastures within a 30km radius of the fruitière making it.
A fruitière is like a cooperative where milk from the community is pooled and cheeses are made. Unfortunately due to the size of the cheeses and the length of maturing time required the fruitières don't have enough space to age the cheeses themselves. So Affineurs such as Fromageries Marcel Petite take cheeses each week to age then sell on.
All Comté cheeses produced are graded by inspectors following a 20-point system. Any cheese scoring 15 and over is given a green label around the outside of the cheese. Scores of 12 – 15 get a red label and any with a score lower than 3 cannot be called a Comté at all.
Marcel Petite age their cheeses in their ex military garrison, Fort St Antoine for at least 12 months. Their team of tasters will try the cheeses daily to decide when each individual cheese is ready, regardless of what age it is.
We have used this Comté at one of our "To & Fro Tastings" with Wayward Wines and paired it with a very traditional mountain wine from the same region - Savagnin and the pairing was incredible. Any Alpine white wine would go fantastically well with this cheese.
Excellent in fondue! Click here to have a look at the G&J suggested fondue cheeses.