Produced since 1988 in the in the village of Beauzac in the Auvergne region of France, Saint Agur is a double-cream blue cheese made by the Bongrain Cheese Company.
The history of Bongrain dates back to 1920 in Illoud, France, when Jean- Noel Bongrain, then only 19 years of age, inherited the small family business of Fromagerie d’Illoud (as it was then called). By the early 1950’s, Bongrain began to develop the family business in a new direction, seeking to break away from the traditional French cheeses.
Jean- Noel‘s vision was to produce a nationally-branded cheese, an idea that was unheard of at the time in France. He wanted to create a recipe that would not only be unique in taste but could be reproduced throughout the various regions of France. The first cheese to be made along these lines was ‘Caprice des Dieux’, first produced in 1950.
Having penetrated the French market, Bongrain then launched further afield, and by 1960 was selling cheese in Germany, Switzerland, Austria, and Italy. Today, Bongrain is France’s second largest cheese and dairy producer and 5th largest in the world. The group currently operates production facilities in 24 counties all over the world including Europe, North America, South America, and Asia.
Each 4lb-5lb wheel of Saint Agur requires about 4-5 gallons of cow’s milk for it’s production and contains 60% butter cream, thus qualifying it a double-cream cheese.
For production, following pasteurization, starter cultures and a vegetarian-based rennet are added. As soon as the milk reaches the desired consistency, the curd is cut, separated and crumbled into octagonal molds. The action of crumbling the curd plays a crucial role in the inoculation of the penicillium roqueforti and the development of the blue veining as the cheese ages.
After unmolding, the young cheeses are placed on racks and hand-salted with coarse salt over a period of six days. Cheeses mature for 60-80 days in a very humid environment, at temperatures ranging from 50-54 degrees F. During this time, the cheese are also pierced at least three times to encourage the development of the characteristic blue veins throughout the cheese. Finally, just before release, the cheeses are wrapped in a thin foil to slow the development of any external molds.
The interior paste of the cheese is moist, dense and yielding, with a pale cream-colored paste and characteristic blue-green veins of mold.
Flavors are rich and buttery with a spicy tang. Best suggested wine pairings: Chardonnay, Syrah, or Port.