ACS Best of Show Third Place: Louis d'Or
Fromagerie du Presbytère, QC
Brothers Jean and Dominic Morin are fourth-generation dairy farmers in Québec who have found amazing success as first-generation cheese producers in just a few short years. Now, with a third-place Best of Show at the 2011 ACS competition and a first-place award in the open category for their cow’s milk Louis d’Or, the pair is poised for the big time. The secret to their success: “Happy, healthy cows,” says Jean, who often wears a tie adorned with smiling bovines. “It all starts with the milk, and the care we show the cheese as we make it.”
Jean is quick to give credit to his brother, Dominic, who looks after the herd, and to Dany Grimard, who runs the make room in a former Roman Catholic rectory in the village of Sainte-Élizabeth-de-Warwick, about 100 miles east of Montréal. The renovated and expanded rectory serves as the creamery, located across the street from their farm.
The name Fromagerie du Presbytère translates as “cheesemaking in the residence” (the word “presbytère” has nothing to do with Presbyterians). The cheese gets its name from Ferme Louis d’Or, the family dairy farm that is home to 85 Holstein, Jersey, and Canadienne cows. The name also refers to the French currency of the same name used during the reign of Louis XIII in 1640.
Fromagerie’s flavorful, Gruyere-like, washed-rind cheese made with organic raw milk won the gold medal at the Seléction Caseus 2010, the leading cheese competition in Québec. Louis d’Or also won the Grand Champion award in the 2011 Canadian Cheese Grand Prix and was named champion in three categories: firm cheese, farmstead cheese, and organic cheese.
Louis d’Or’s richness, smooth texture, and nutty, floral notes have gained fans across Canada. Kathy Guidi, author of Canadian Cheese: A Pocket Guide, calls it “a beautiful cheese.” Alain Besré of La Fromagerie Atwater in Montréal, often called the godfather of the Québec artisan cheese movement, picked it as his favorite cheese of 2010.
For Jean Morin, ACS Best of Show means “tremendous recognition,” and a positive reflection on the dozen or so artisan cheesemakers in Québec who use raw milk. His hope is that their collective success will convince the Canadian government to ease certain restrictions placed on cheesemakers using unpasteurized milk. For example, Morin notes, “Canadian regulations prohibit us from using copper vats, yet we import cheeses made that way.”
Thanks to the Best of Show publicity, the legion of Louis d’Or fans will extend into the U.S., as orders have been placed from as far away as Los Angeles. Nonetheless, Morin says Fromagerie du Presbytère will always remain focused on quality, not quantity. “Louis d’Or is aged 9 to 18 months, so we cannot easily produce more cheese,” he says, “and our cows will not suddenly start giving us more milk tomorrow.”
Written by Christine Darragh
Photograph by Kate Arding