Cantal AOC (France) is a semi hard cows milk cheese with a dense crumbly texture, thick natural rind and complex savoury flavours.
Cantal is an unusual hard cheese, with a dense crumbly texture, thick natural rind and complex savoury flavours. It is one of the oldest French cheeses, pre-dating even Roquefort and believed to be the forebearer of many English territorials. The curd is pressed twice during the making process – after the curds are milled and again when hooped as a huge 40kg wheel. It is this process which creates its dense, slightly crumbly texture. When young, it has mild, milky and buttery flavours with a slight tang. During maturation, the cheese develops its natural rind which contributes complex, earthy characters to the cheese’s flavour. Cantal that has been matured for more than 8 months is characterised as vieux (“old”).
A little history
Cantal cheese, named for the Cantal départment and mountain range that runs through France’s Auvergne region, has been produced since at least Roman times. The region is known as green country due to its diverse green pastures growing on the rich volcanic soil. Weather permitting, daily grazing is mandatory for at least 120 days of per year, and grass – fresh or dried, must constitute 50% of the cows daily feed. Often referred to as a French Cheddar, Cantal shares many similarities with the famous English cheese and it is likely that the recipes for Cheshire and eventually Cheddar were based on Cantal.
*AOC = Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée
Goes well with
Full-bodied white wines or lighter-style red wines