A family business since 1906, Fromageries Papillon has always specialized in the production of the Ayeron region’s most famous cheese: Roquefort. The dairy, which is based in the town of Roquefort-sur-Soulzon, is noted as having been a pioneer in France’s organic farming movement; their organic version of Roquefort has been produced since 1976. Now owned by the Farines family, Fromageries Papillon still uses a homemade strain of Penicillium roquefortii in Roquefort production, which is cultivated in the owner’s bakery. The range of Papillon products has continued to expand over the years, now including both traditional French and original cheeses.
Raw sheep’s milk Roquefort is protected by an Appellation d’Origine in France and in Europe, meaning that all cheeses using the name must follow a production and affinage process that adheres strictly to tradition and to high quality standards. Papillon takes this a step further; in addition to 200 controls on average, their version of Roquefort is constantly checked by a master affineur, from salting when it first leaves its refrigerators to the ripening and wrapping process. Quality is evaluated based on the openings and the veins in the paste, the cheese’s texture, and the characteristics of its blue mold. Cheeses are aged for 19 days in the Combalou mountain caves, then transferred to the company’s cellars for four to five months.
This cheese’s smell is powerful: rich, tangy, and reminiscent of bread and yeast. Texture is creamy yet crumbly, becoming soft in the mouth. Moist pockets of blue flavor spring to live while chewing, offering a contrast to the full and creamy paste. Taste is addictively salty, sweet and complex. Briny, ocean-y notes are present and a blue piquancy floats up through the nostrils.
Roquefort pairs well with a sweet dessert wine such as Sauternes or an Alsacian white. This version is fabulous with dried strawberries.