This Comté Vieux AOP is matured for 18 months, twice as long as standard Comté. Longer maturation gives this nutty cheese additional sweetness and depth of flavour. The texture is firmer too with a studding of crystals that adds a delicate crunch. Made in Franche-Comté in the Jura mountains, our Comté Vieux is made from the raw milk of Montbéliarde cows in accordance with strict AOP regulations. Read more
This beautiful French cheese is one of my favourites. With its extended ageing it has a deep caramel and subtle almond taste.
Country of Origin
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Comté is an iconic French cheese with a long history. It was one of the first French cheeses to receive AOC (Appellation d'Origine Contrôlée) designation in 1958 (transferred to AOP in 1996) and with around 65,000 tonnes made each year, its production is the highest of all French AOP (Appellation d'Origine Protégée) cheeses.
Similar to Le Gruyère, Comté is an Alpine-style hard cheese made from unpasteurised cow's milk. Regulations specify the milk must be from Montbéliarde or Simmental cows, each with a minimum of 1.3 hectares of grazing pasture. The cows must be hay-fed during winter months with no silage. Each Montbéliarde cow gives 20 litres of milk daily over two milkings so 23 cows are need to produce the 500 litres of milk required to make each 50kg wheel of Comté, wide and flat in shape with a diameter of 60cm.
Comté production is the work of three groups: farmers, cheese makers and affineurs (maturers). They work independently but in close cooperation. Comté is made in the Franche-Comté region of eastern France very close to the Swiss border. Here 170 local dairies, known as 'fruitères' make the cheese in copper vats with traditional animal rennet, heating the milk up to 56 degrees. Salt from the Guerande region is brushed on to the cheese to develop a dusty-brown natural rind as it matures for a minimum of four months. Ageing on spruce boards in cave-like conditions can continue for up to 24 months. Our aged Comté is matured for 18 months, twice as long as the average wheel, for greater depth of flavour and a grainy crunch. The cheese evolves from mild with a sweet finish to become more grassy and buttery with notes of roasted nuts. It is this butteriness and hints of hazelnut that distinguish it from Le Gruyère. Comté also varies with the season. Winter cheeses tend to be paler and milky in colour with a delicate flavour. Summer cheeses have a more golden glow and richer, savoury taste.
Comté is an extremely versatile cheese perfect for snacking, enjoying on a cheese board or for use as a cooking ingredient. With good care it lasts well in the fridge. It melts brilliantly in fondue, on top of soup and grated over asparagus. Sliced, it makes a hearty sandwich with rye bread, ham and cornichons, and it can also be used in sweeter dishes such spiced apple and pecan tart.
“For a simple pairing, indeed the perfect light lunch, Katie recommends aged Comté with a few slices of wholemeal bread and a glass of Domaine Rolet Arbois Chardonnay.
Arbois is the most important wine sub-region in the Jura. Located in the foothills of the Alps, grape growing can be difficult here and many winemakers are put off by the harsh winters. Not Domaine Rolet, which handpicks grapes from 30-year-old vines. Their Chardonnay sings with notes of rich citrus, white flowers and nuttiness from minimal oak ageing. These flavours complement aged Comtè beautifully. Throw in the wholemeal bread and the exaggerated nuttiness is wonderfully pleasing.
For a bolder match, Katie recommends a red wine from Bordeaux's Right Bank, Saint-Émilion. As a general rule the wines from this sub-region of Bordeaux are less tannic, more fruity and approachable at a younger age. This is mainly because Merlot is dominant in this area, compared to a higher number of Cabernet Sauvignon plantings on the Left Bank.
Notes of ripe cherry, blackberry, clove, vanilla and mocha make Baron de Boutisse Saint-Emillion Grand Cru 2016 an ideal wine match for a strong cheese like Aged Comté. Silky, smooth tannins and four years ageing (twelve months in oak) result in a lighter mouth-feel, without overpowering the cheese."