Brie Noir is a super-aged version of Brie. The cheese, which is rarely found outside its native Seine et Mare region of France, usually starts out as Brie de Meaux or Brie de Melun. These two mold-ripened AOC cheeses are normally aged for up to 5 and 10 weeks respectively, while a Brie Noir can be aged for up to two years.
One version of Brie Noir can be found at Fromagerie Ganot in Jouarre, where fifth-generation affineur Stéphane Gay refines cheeses from throughout the region. Gay points out that he has some help in aging his Brie Noir from “artisans,” or cheese mites, who live in the cave and chew up some of the cheese’s crust. During aging, he turns and brushes the surface occasionally so that the mites don’t degrade the surface too quickly. Ater purchasing, Brie Noir can be conserved at home in the refrigerator for two or three months. Because it travels better than traditional Brie, Stéphane says that the cheese is especially popular among his Japanese visitors.
The odor and appearance of his one-year-aged Brie de Melun is so aggressive that the taste comes as a pleasant surprise; it’s pungent yet still creamy, with aromas of porcini mushrooms, undergrowth and roasted nuts.
Scrape some of the rind off before eating, and try dunking it in coffee.