Tomme de Chèvre de Savoie
Tomme de Chèvre is produced in the Savoie region of the French Alps. The firm, round pressed cheese is made from raw goat’s milk.
Producers of the traditional cheese have recently organized themselves into an association in order to pursue a French Appellation d’Origine such as AOP or IGP: a process that would certify the name and strictly delineate the cheese’s production process and quality characteristics. However until now, the process is on hold due to the fact that the word “tomme” is relatively common, existing throughout France. Literally translating into “wheel” or “round,” it can be applied to as many as 100 different French cheeses. The common factor uniting all “tommes” is that the production of each results in a small/medium-sized mountain-style (i.e. firm-textured, ideal for aging) cheese.
Like the similar cow’s milk Tomme de Savoie IGP, which is produced in the same region, Tomme de Chèvre is allowed to develop a natural rind during an aging period of at least seven weeks. The microbes that colonize a wheel’s surface are simply present in the environment of the cheese cave, passed on from one wheel to another. The cheese develops a characteristic fluffy gray rind, which often exhibits colorful patches and which is patted down gently before release. The microbes are so prolific that the cheeses must be aged in a separate cave from other varieties, and usually the person responsible for maintaining that cave doesn’t spend any time around other cheeses, so as not to spread the microbes.
Tomme de Chèvre is covered with a thick suede-like gray rind that is frequently dotted with patches of yellow, red and white-colored mold. The interior paste of the cheese is ivory-colored, while texture is pliable and smooth. Aromas of the rind are pungent and barnyardy, reminiscent of animals, earth and wet leaves. Fondant on the palate, taste is sweet upfront, with sour citrusy notes kicking in after a moment. When the tanginess and tongue-numbing pungency fades, aromas of butter, peach and hazelnut linger.
Pair it with a white wine from the Savoie, such as a Chignin, an Apremont or Roussette.