Comte is another French cheese, like Roquefort, to hold AOC protection and has done so since 1958. Those two cheeses however, are vastly different in make, composition and flavor profile.
Comte is made from raw cow’s milk and made in the Jura region of France, quite some distance from Roquefort-sur-Soulzon, and nestles itself closely to Switzerland. So, it makes sense, that they would produce one of the most famous alpine, or ‘mountain’, style cheeses in the world and have done so for over 800 years. Though it is said to be the most popular and consumed cheese in France, it seems that Gruyere gets more love stateside, especially when being mentioned in recipes.
Because of its AOC protection, Comte carries the following requirements in its production:
- Only milk from Montbeliarde Cattle or French simmental (or cross breeds of the two) are permitted, and each must have at least a hectare of grazing.
- Fertilization is limited, and cows may only be fed fresh, natural feed, with no silage.
- The milk must be transported to the site of production immediately after milking.
- Renneting must be carried out within a stipulated time after milking, according to the storage temperature of the cheese.
- Only one heating of the milk may occur, and that must be during renneting. It may be heated to no more than 40˚C.
- Salt may only be applied directly to the surface of the cheese.
- A casein label containing the date of production must be attached to the side of the cheese, and maturing must continue for at least four months.
- No grated cheese may be sold under the Comté name.
Milk: Raw Cow
Brand: Les 3 Comtoi
Rind: Tannish, labled with blue and white ‘Comte’ label and AOC branding
Paste:Golden in color; paste looks full and rich; no fissures, eyes or imperfections
Rind: Musty, moldy
Paste: Toast, toffee
Mouthfeel: Smooth, pliable with no graininess
Flavor: Brown butter at the center; moving up–closer to the rind–more meatiness. Rind produces huge mushroom finish and lingers, similar to white button or grilled portabella.