While it’s a mini version of Ossau Iraty PDO, there’s nothing minute about Esquirrou’s flavor—just ask the judges at the 2018 World Championship Cheese Contest, who named it World Champion out of 3,402 entries from 26 countries. The wheel’s PDO requires that it be made according to certain regulations, including using sheep’s milk sourced from farms within a 50-mile radius of the French Basque creamery. Firm, nutty, and smooth, approachable Esquirrou is perfect for holiday platters. Sip a glass of red Bordeaux or Bergerac alongside a slice for a true taste of southwestern France.
- Aged at least six months, the ivory paste boasts notes of roasted nuts and toasted wheat.
- Esquirrou means “bell” in a local Basque dialect, a nod to the sheep’s accessories.
- Since it’s difficult for sheep to breed year-round, Esquirrou is only made from November to July.
Photography by Beryl Striewski