Produced at the Abbaye Notre-Dame de Bonne Espérance (our Lady of Good Hope) in the Dordogne, near Double in France, Trappe Echourgnac is made from pasteurized cow’s milk. The Abbey produces two versions of the cheese; a traditional recipe based on Port Salut and a newer version of the same cheese but washed with walnut liqueur (pictured).
The Abbey was founded in 1852 by monks who came from the Abbey of Port Hi Mayenne, bringing with them the recipe for Port Salut. As they established their new monastery and, driven by their mission to help the people of Double, the monks created a cheesemaking facility and purchased milk from neighboring farms. In addition they worked with the farmers to improve milk quality by enhancing breeding programs, sanitation procedures and working to produce better grazing.
Using this milk, the monks produced Echourgnac until 1910 when production ceased for a few years. However, in 1923 the Abbey was taken over by nuns who have continued the cheesemaking tradition by producing Echourgnac and, in 1999, also introducing a variation of the cheese washed with walnut liqueur.
The liqueur is sourced from nearby Périgord, an area famous for its nut groves and also home to a distillery, known for its production of nut liqueurs.
This newer version of Echourgnac has proved so popular that in 2003 years the nuns decided to share the recipe with the monks at Timadeuc in order to meet demand (see separate Timanoix Cheese Library entry).
An uncooked, pressed cheese, wheels of Échourgnac are produced in two sizes and matured in the cellars for a minimum of three weeks prior to release for the smaller wheels and two months for the larger. Current production runs at 52 tons per annum, with approximately 70% of the cheese being consumed within the Dordogne region. The remaining 30% is distributed within the rest of France as well as exported to Germany and beyond.