Centerfold: Brebirousse d’Argental | culture: the word on cheese
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Centerfold: Brebirousse d’Argental

Photographed by Nina Gallant | Styled by Madison Trapkin | Props by Weston Table

With its poofy square shape and pleated tangerine-hued rind, Brebirousse d’Argental is a head turner. Part of the d’Argental family of soft, rich cheeses made from pasteurized cow, sheep, goat, or buffalo milk, Brebirousse (which means “red sheep”) is the sister to Chèvre Rousse d’Argental (goat’s milk) and Vacherousse d’Argental (cow’s milk). The entire line is produced exclusively for German food company Fromi, at a creamery just outside Lyon, France, in partnership with cheesemaker Jean-Claude Guilloteau—who also makes the Fromager d’Affinois range of brie-style cheeses.

“Both the shape and the color are so arresting and catch your eye at the start. It’s one I gravitate to for company cheese boards because it stands out.”

–Lizzie Roller

While they are made in the Old World, d’Argental cheeses are quite new. “In 1992, Fromi and Guilloteau decided to create a line of cheeses for cutting and wrapping in a kilogram size for the German market,” says Jeremy Dole, CEO of Fromi USA/ Canada. “We started to make goat and sheep brie-style cheeses and launched those products under the brand d’Argental in 1994.”

According to Dole, Fromi’s buyer and cheese specialist, Vincent Christophe, was interested in developing a sheep’s milk version of the famous French cheese Mont d’Or, and after approaching several cheesemakers, “Mr. Guilloteau agreed to try to make such a cheese; he and Christophe agreed on how to wash the rind and what kind of lactic ferment we could use,” Dole says. The delicious result—Brebirousse d’Argental—debuted in 1996.

“It was originally round but we decided to do a square version to distinguish the different milks of the Guilloteau products: sheep cheeses would be square, goat cheeses octagonal, and cow cheeses round.”

–Jeremy Dole

While creamy Mont d’Or is famously pungent, Brebirousse d’Argental lacks the barnyard aroma, but is equally lush and pudding-like. “It’s a really nice cheese for people to dip their toes into sheep’s milk,” says Lizzie Roller, director of merchandising for Murray’s Cheese. “Americans don’t necessarily think of sheep’s milk and soft cheeses. You get all the richness of sheep’s milk—the extra fat content—without the lanolin or picante notes that you might get in a pecorino.” She recommends pairing the cheese with a silky slice of prosciutto, or with apricot jam or a pickle to temper the richness.

Susan Axelrod

Susan Sherrill Axelrod is a former editor of Culture. Her love affair with cheese began at age 12, when she bicycled to a gourmet shop to taste an exotic newcomer—French brie. She lives with her partner in midcoast Maine, where she enjoys a well-made cocktail, hiking with their dog, Lucy, and spending as much time as possible on the water.

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