Bresse Bleu is a creamy blue cheese with a bloomy rind. It’s produced in the Rhône-Alpes area of France under the direction of the Bongrain dairy 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 recipes 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. Many cheeses are distributed in the United States under the Ile de France brand name.
Bresse Bleu, one of Bongrain’s nationally-branded cheeses, is a cross between a blue cheese and a Camembert. In production, Penicillium roqueforti (the mold used in production of Roquefort and other blue cheeses) is introduced to the curds before molding. After molding, the small rounds are rubbed with Penicillium camemberti, the mold responsible for Camembert’s fuzzy white coating.
Aged for 2-4 weeks, Bresse Bleu has a soft, spreadable cream-colored paste with patches of blue-green veining. It’s less salty and less pungent than other blue cheeses, making it a good choice for those usually wary of blues. Taste is lactic with aromas of mushrooms and a slight kick of spiciness from the blue veins.
Pair it with a Sauternes, a Chablis or a Burgundy red.