Bleu des Causses
Produced in the Languedoc region of southern France, Bleu des Causses is made from raw milk from the Montbeliarde and Aubrac breeds of of cow. Bleu des Causses was granted AOC (name protected) status in 1979. Traditionally the recipe for Bleu des Causses would have probably involved the use of sheep's milk mixed with either cow's or goat's milk. However, as a result of legislation surrounding the production of other French blue cheeses, in 1947 it was decreed that it should be made solely from cow's milk.
The recipe for Bleu des Causses bears many similarities to Blue d'Auvergne, although Bleu des Causses usually has a slightly softer texture, a creamier mouthfeel, and more peppery, spicy flavors.
During production, milk is renneted at 86°F, coagulated, cut into large cubes and stirred several times prior to draining and the addition of Penicilium Roqueforti (blue mold). The drained curd is placed into molds that are then transferred to a draining room. They remain there, still draining, for three or four days at a temperature of 64°F, and are turned several times before being unmolded and dry salted.
The young salted wheels rest for three days and are then moved to natural caves, known as "caves batards" (illegitimate caves) located in the limestone plateaux of the the Gorges du Tarn, where the cheeses are matured. The caves are exposed to the north and are ventilated by natural chimneys, known as "fleurines," formed in the cliffs, which allow clean air carrying natural microflora to flow through the caves. The microflora play an essential role in the maturation and flavor development of Bleu des Causses and also introduce the "terroir"of the region.
Wheels of Bleu des Causses are typically aged between three and six months before release. Cheeses made during the winter months are paler in color than their summer counterparts, a result of the variation in the cow's diet. The texture of cheeses made during the winter tends to be slightly drier.
Flavors of Bleu des Causses are assertive but not harsh. There are hints of grass and clover, especially in summer cheeses. The richness of the milk balances out the peppery and spicy notes of the blue mold, resulting in a complex, rounded and long lasting finish.