This story begins by sad news : the farmer to whom I used to buy 5-month-old goat cheese (see story) on the market in Saint-Aignan is gone. She passed away unexpectedly last august, and as I hadn't seen her on two consecutive saturdays in september, I asked to the bartender at Chez Armand (the cafe on the marketplace) and he told me the hard news. Late august, he told me, all the market sellers paid tribute to her. She was a familiar figure on this small weekly market and her cheeses were great. I didn't pay a visit to her farm since then and as I didn't see anyone of her family follow suit on the market, I'm afraid that the heirs just stopped the cheese farm.
When I learned that, I decided that I'd make my aged goat-cheeses myself on the following winter because of both my love for this weird and strong-type cheese and because that was a way to perpetuate her legacy. As I wrote then, the French food administration doesn't like to see these aged cheeses on the markets and other cheese-makers told me that the traditional aging of these cheeses in clay pots set in non-airconditionned, ventilated outbuildings was virtually forbidden. That's one of the reasons you rarely see some in the stalls, the other reason being that goat cheese sells well, so most cheese makers don't bother setting some aside for aging.
Whatever, I wrapped each cheese in one or two leaves depending of the size of the leaves and put a string around each to keep the leaf reasonably tight. The result was very beautiful, with the only down side that I couldn't see as well as before how the cheese was evolving, I could just guess the softness with the fingers.
__He came back from his cellar with a Cabernet Sauvignon 1994 that he never commercialized and that he kept for himself and friends. We had the cheese & the wine in front of his stove and liked the treat. The cheese had the nice civilized bitterness of a several-months-old goat cheese, the ammonia side being more discreet that what I got several times. It was soft but firm, with a good intensity in the palate.
The wine had a lot of fruit in spite of its age with plum notes, ripe plum and raspberry. Also cooked-cherries notes like the ones in clafoutis cake. The vinification was made with whole clusters he said. In 1994 there had been some frost and this (I don't remember the exact reason of this) yielded some reduction notes in the wine.
That was a good match even if I must say that the cheese was probably a replacement cheese that I put in the clay pot in mid november. I'm wondering if the age of the wine is the factor for going well with a long-affinage goat cheese. All these wines that are supposed to go well with this type of cheese share a common point : the age.
See on the left a picture of a just-unwrapped cheese. On the right, this picture was shot at the goat cheese farm from which these delicacies originated.
__Then André Fouassier brought a bottle of his Cot 2007. The wine is fruity with cherry notes, very fresh, less tannins here. The cheese takes over with this wine.
__Then (this is now an improvised tasting of different wines) he brings a Cabernet 2008 (50% C.S./C.F.) that he plans to blend with Gamay. I warm it up in my hands because it is cold. Refined wine with spices. Fruit too. Once warmed up, very nice wine, gourmand. This is a sample, unfiltered and unfined.
__Another red, the Rolls, he says : the nose gives lots of complexity and fineness. He says it's been made from a small surface of Côt Garnon that he owns, he made 33 hectoliters of this. Very, very nice, I like that, it glides in the mouth and is a treat to swallow. Liquorice notes. Machine harvested, so few wholeclusters came in. I want two cases of this one, André, when it's bottled (not bottled yet).
__We taste now the red Valençay 2009 blend : Pinot Noir, Gamay, Côt. Very nice wine too, peppery notes. Will be named Vieilles Vignes.
__Valençay Chabris 2009 (from his vineyards in Chabris which grow on a sandy soil). Pinot Noir, Côt and a little bit of Gamay. Cuvée Saint Phallier. He thinks that this blend is a bit harsh, so he may change the blend before putting the wine on the market. Fruity nose. Cooked fruits. Silky feel, this is brought by the sandy soil, he says. Reasonable length, thin tannins.
I didn't eat the rind here of course, and I don't think a wine would have fit, except a dry Rancio maybe. This one was certainly from the first, early batch, the ones that I put in the pot in mid october, when the weather was unusually mild.
As a conclusion I would say that making one's own affinage is fun and easy, the room where this clay pot was stored was an old side building with no aircon, the old door wasn't even tight, which is actually better because the air must circulate.
For a very affordable investment (2,2 € apiece) you get what no shop (even in France) will sell you : unique aged goat-cheese that you unwrap with nearly the same excitement as when you open a long-desired bottle of old-vintage wine.
Groussin goat cheese is not exported but a Japanese cheese-lover (and wine lover) seems to have visited the farm (how did she find the farm ? I can tell you it's out of the beaten path...) and wrote this story (you'll find the contact info for the farm at the bottom of the page).