Made in the Poitou-Charentes region of western France, Mothais-sur-Feuille is named for the town of Mothe-Saint-Héray, where the cheese has been made and sold at local markets since the mid nineteenth century.
The area has long been famous for goat’s cheese, beginning with the invasion of the Saracens in the Middle Ages who, when they later retreated, left everything behind including their goats and a healthy cheesemaking culture.
Although production of the cheese has spread and now extends across a wider region, in 2002 the cheesemakers formed an organization to protect the recipe and to take the first steps towards a name controlled Designation of Origin (AOC).
For production, fresh goat’s milk is allowed to stand and slowly coagulate via lactic fermentation. Once formed, the curd is gently scooped into molds to retain as much moisture as possible, and allowed to drain naturally under its own weight.
The young cheeses are then wrapped in a leaf - chestnut, sycamore or plane, depending on what is available and transferred to maturing rooms.
The maturation of Mothais-sur-Feuille takes place in rooms with unusually high humidity. Whereas most goat’s cheeses age in conditions where humidity is about 85-90%, Mothais-sur-Feuille is kept at nearly 100% humidity for a duration of three to four weeks. During this time, they are turned regularly every 4 days to allow the even distribution of moisture.
This, combined with the protective leaf coating, creates a cheese with a relatively high moisture content for its size and maturity – a characteristic that also encourages optimum flavor development.
The resulting cheese has a meltingly soft texture when young, becoming more dense as it ages. The paste of the cheese takes on the delicate wood, earth and mold flavors of the leaf and cellar that are subtle in a young cheese but become more concentrated as the cheese matures.
The rind is delicate and slightly wrinkled, covered with blue and gray molds underneath the leaf.
Mothais-sur-Feuille pairs well with Champagne or with a medium weight single-malt whisky.