If you are a regular reader of The Flexitarian, then you will know that Comté is one of my favorite cheeses. To this day, Comté cheese is crafted using traditional artisanal methods and high quality milk sourced from specific grass-fed cow breeds to which it owes its DPO (Protected Designation of Origin).
Comté is made in around 170 small village cheese dairies known as fruitières often situated in the hearts of the villages. Everyday each fruitière receives milk from dedicated dairy farms situated within an eight mile radius to guarantee its absolute freshness.
Comté cheese is produced in Jura, a picture perfect region of North Eastern France complete with mountains, pastures, forests and rolling vineyards. The Jura vineyards cover only 5,200 acres. To put this in perspective this equates to 0.3% of France’s total area of vineyards and is just about bigger than Margaux in Bordeaux. Still Jura manages to produce a very diverse range of red, white and sparkling wines, exporting only 10% of its production of 10-12 million bottles per year.
Last month I was invited to an evening of Jura wines and Comté cheese pairing: “The Wonderful World of Jura”. To be honest, I always find wine tasting a bit daunting. I am not sure why; probably I feel that being French carries the heavy responsibility of being expected to know your wines. And while I enjoy wine, I am certainly no expert. Luckily, we were told there were no right and wrong answers.
We were greeted by six different types of Comté cheese (ranging from 4 to 30 months) as well as five different Jura wines and set out to mark what we liked best.
Our wine selection included:
Crémant du Jura Blanc, Domaine Désiré-Petit
(90% Chardonnay, 10% Pinot Noir, Abv 12% RRP £14)
Trousseau 2014 “Les Roussots” Domaine Benoit Badoz
(Côtes du Jura AOC, 100% Trousseau RRP £22)
Côtes du Jura Les Sarres, Savagnin 2014, Vins Rijckaert
(Côtes du Jura AOC, 100% Savagnin, Abv 13% RRP £21)
Savagnin 2012, Domaine Jean-Louis Tissot
(Arbois AOC, 100% Savagnin, Abv 13.5% RRP £17)
Vin Jaune 2009, Domaine Daniel Dugois
(Arbois AOC, 100% Savagnin, Abv 14.5% RRP £40)
Around 30 of us spent the evening debating which wine was best suited to which cheese. Opinions varied greatly. My personal favourite was the 30 month Comté cheese (which has a deep and mature taste) with the Vin Jaune (a wine that in spite of not being fortified shares many similarities with dry sherry). Yet at the completely opposite end, another winning combination was Crémant du Jura Blanc (a sparkling white) with the 30 month Comté cheese.
The Jura wines are produced with the same care and authenticity as Comté cheese so it is no wonder that they are a perfect match.
The holiday season is the perfect excuse to enjoy the wonderful taste of Jura. In our house no cheeseboard would be complete without a slice of Comté cheese. When it comes to wine, I have a bottle of Vin Jaune waiting in the cellar but one thing is for sure: red, white or sparkling, with Jura you can’t really go wrong!
Thanks to Comté Cheese for inviting me to Wonderful World of Jura evening. All thoughts and opinions are my own.