Carles Roquefort AOP

PRONUNCIATION: CARL ROCK-for
ORIGIN: Roquefort, France
MILK: Ewe
RENNET TYPE: Traditional animal rennet
STYLE: Blue
CLASSIFICATION: Artisan
APPROXIMATE AGE: 5 months

Roquefort is one of the most famous French AOP cheeses. It is considered to be one of the greatest blues in the world and has an extraordinary history.  It was mentioned by Pliny in AD 79, and its name and methods have been protected since 1411.

As a designated AOP cheese, it is the appellation d'origine protégée (AOP, protected designation of origin) that certifies that "everything, from the raw material to the processing and the final product, comes from one clearly defined region of origin". Roqeufort can only be made in the area surrounding Roquefort-sur-Soulzon, in southern France, using milk from the local Lacaune breed of sheep. It must be matured in the natural limestone caves of the Comballou nearby. It is in these Caves that mould that gives Roquefort its distinctive character (Penicillium Roqueforti) grows naturally.

Legend has it that Roquefort was “discovered” when a lovesick shepherd left his lunch of rye bread & ewes’ milk in the entrance to one of the Cambalou caves to pursue a lovely young girl.  When he returned sometime later, he discovered the curds has turned into a very mouldy cheese, with a strong mineral odour.  Being very hungry the shepherd decided to eat it anyway and was amazed & delighted at how delicious it was.

Carles Roquefort is a stunning example of a hand-made, artisan Roquefort. It is produced by the Carles family in the heart of the village of Roquefort.

Maison Carles was founded in 1927 by François Carles and has always been a family business. Jacques Carles took over the company in 1957 and was joined by his daughter Delphine in 1997. Holding on to the family spirit and passion for cheese making, Delphine continues to produce exceptional handmade Roquefort cheese, using a secret family recipe that has been quietly handed down from generation to generation. The family are the last remaining Roquefort producers still hand making the cheese, from the cutting and handling of the curd to the adding of the mould.

There are a couple of things that make this particular Roquefort stand out from the others. Firstly, being a small batch operation there is a great control over the quality of the milk and cheese production.  Milk is collected every morning from a collective of 20 farms. The exceptional quality of the milk brings all the fragrance and flavour of the pastures of the region. Secondly, the cultivation of their own penicillium roqueforti, from rye bread made in-house.  Traditionally the rye bread is left in the caves for 6-8 weeks until it is consumed by mould, the interior of the bread is then dried and turned into a powder that is added to the curds during the cheesemaking process.  Once production is complete, the wheels are matured on thick slabs of oak, that date back more than a century, in one of the Carles family four natural caves deep in the Combalou Mountains. Here thanks to the perfect conditions of cool, moist air flow through the natural vents in the caves, the Penicillium Roqueforti works it magic creating a truly delicious cheese.

Carles Roqefort has a powerful flavour, mixing a steely blue minerality and salty tang.  Arguably fruitier and better balanced than other Roqueforts. Big and bold with a burst of spicy blue mould on the front palate, the finish is creamy, grassy and nutty, very deep and lingering.  The texture switchbacks beautifully between the creamy curds and grittier blue moulds. A truly remarkable cheese.

Best paired with sweeter styles of wine, traditionally Sauternes.

Serve the French way – on a baguette with truffle honey or with a fig or two.


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