Created in 2001 by cheesemaker Gabriel Bachelet, Gabietou is a washed rind cheese made from a blend of cow's and sheep's milk.
Bachelet is based near Pau in the mountainous Bearn region of southwestern France. This is an area well known for its sheep and cows, as well as the high altitude mountain pastures that provide such favorable summer grazing for the livestock.
Raw milk from both sheep and cows is used for the production of Gabietou, in a ratio of about one third to two thirds respectively. Cheeses are made from November to July. The maturing process, which lasts between three anf five months, involves washing the cheeses with a brine solution that comprises of water and rock salt sourced from local warm springs. This, according to Bachelet, contributes to the copper tint seen on the cheese's rind.
Bachelet also sells some young cheeses to affineurs Jean d'Alos and Herve Mons, who mature them in their own cellars before selling them. Each affineur has slightly different maturing methods that will affect the fine tuning of the cheese after production, although the basics remain the same.
The texture of Gabietou is semisoft, smooth and supple with a pale, straw-colored paste and occasional holes, or "eyes." The rind is thin and a golden-orange color, slightly pungent but not overwhelming.
Flavors are dense, rich, mellow and creamy with notes of fruit that are balanced by earthy, mushroomy notes.