Named after a market town in the Champagne region of France, Chaource is a soft, mild cylindrical cow's milk cheese. Records show that it has been produced since the 14th century, when farmers sold it as an accompaniment to Champagne at the Champagne fairs in Troyes. The tradition of drinking champagne with Chaource continues today.
Production of Chaource can be either artisinal or industrial, and cheeses can be made from either raw or pasteurized milk, although, for artisanal production, raw cow's milk is used. Coagulation is mainly lactic and the cheeses are ladled by hand, keeping the curd mild, light and moist. Cheeses are not pressed, and mature for a minimum of two weeks. However, given the correct cellar humidity, aging can take as long as two months.
Chaource are at their best in April and May, due to lush spring grass and the new season's milk.
Younger cheeses have a fresh and slightly tart flavor. However, the majority that find their way onto American retail counters are usually more mature. Typically, a soft, white and sometimes quite thick, bloomy rind develops which can taste slightly bitter - in which case it's best just to consume the interior.
Despite it's richness, the interior has a piquant, slightly fruity flavor with a distinct note of butter and mushrooms.
Pair with a Chablis, Nuit St Georges, Sancerre or Champagne.