For the next 14 days I will be sampling “Mountain Cheeses,” made in the mountains, and from happy summer cows with happy summer milk. Truthfully, I had never considered the milk before and the time of year of the milk. Evidently, happy fat cows=happy fat cheese, who knew? Speaking of things I don’t know about cheese, it turns out-that’s just about everything. The more I learn, the more I realize what a completely ignorant cheese eater I have been for all of my life. It’s actually rather embarrassing, particularly as I “out” myself in such a public way. For those true lovers of cheese who may be reading this-forgive me-I am but a humble cheese eater, stumbling my way along this fromalogical journey in the dark.
Feeling rather unburdened now-see, confession is good for the soul!-I turn my eyes and nose to Vigneron, the “Wine Maker’s Cheese,” which is a raw milk cow’s cheese from Switzerland. OMG, this is “Swiss” cheese, although with no large holes in it. See, I am learning something! According to the knowledgable wrapper from the even more knowledgable Les Amis du Fromage in Vancouver, “Vigneron, like most Swiss cheeses, is a mountain cheese, which refers to a large cheese made in the mountains from high pasture milk. High alpine pastures produce a thicker, more flavourful array of plants than do fields of lower altitudes. The cows that graze of these pastures produce milk that is higher in butterfat on average, therefore commanding a higher price and is prized for cheese-making.”
This is a large cheese, compared to the washed rinds, which were rather thin and soft. These mountain cheeses are massive. On average a wheel weighs 40 kgs, but they can weigh up to 100 kgs. That’s some serious cheese! My little slice of Vigneron is buttery in colour with a dark brown/purple rind. Unlike the washed rind cheeses, it’s not recommended to eat this rind. These cheeses are so huge that they are often rolled on their rind, picking up who knows what in transport.
It’s a little dry looking, not at all moist, with faint bubbles (see, it is Swiss). This cheese has a lot of structural integrity, it’s not flopping all over the place, it’s sitting, waiting for me to pair it with some wine-which I won’t as it is 5 in the morning and I don’t drink-but I do appreciate the effort this cheese is giving.This cheese smells good, not foul, quite well-behaved, perhaps a little sharp.
I’m not entirely crazy about Vigneron. The texture s a little thick on the tongue, waiting to melt and leaving the tongue bathed in cheese paste for just a beat too long. The flavour is sharp with hints of mushroom, and also something kind of brown that I can’t quite put my finger on. There is no rot or uric hit whatsoever, it’s pretty mellow. It’s not the flavour that I mind, it’s really the texture, just a little mealy. Perhaps this cheese would benefit from a little melting, or a little wine.
I give Vigneron a 2 for mouth texture and forgettable flavour.