Pérail is made by a number of small-scale farmstead and artisianal cheesemakers located in the limestone plateaux region of the Languedoc in southern France. Crafted from raw sheep’s milk, it is relatively unusual in that it is a natural rinded, mold ripened cheese. Production of Charolais uses a time-consuming method of lactic fermentation. This means that instead of rennet being used for coagulation, the milk is allowed to ripen for a period of usually 12-24 hours, at which point is has naturally formed a gel-like curd. The curd is then gently ladled into forms and drained for several more hours before being unmolded. Cheeses are aged for approximately one week prior to release. Pérail has a natural, thin and delicate rind that is pale straw yellow in color. The interior paste is meltingly rich and yielding.
The aroma of Pérail is quite pronounced and can be barnyardy. Correspondingly, the flavors are distinctively delicious and have the earthiness of ewe’s milk balanced with its natural sweetness.
Light white wines with a zesty structure such as Saint Veran or white Burgundy make excellent pairings. For reds, a medium bodied Rhone or Chilean Cabernet would work well.