Valençay is one of the classic French mold-ripened chèvres from the Loire Valley in France. This young goat's milk cheese is distinguished by its truncated pyramid form, and its layer of ash underlying its surface's bloomy white rind.
According to local legend, Valençay was originally shaped like the perfect pyramid. That is, until Napoleon returned from his disastrous military campaign in Egypt. Stopping at the castle of Valençay and seeing the cheese that reminded him of the Egyptian pyramids, Napoleon supposedly sliced off the top with his sword in a rage.
Production of Valençay involves the drained curd being placed in a mold before being removed and coated with salted charcoal ashes. Cheeses are then placed in a chilled drying room at 80 percent humidity to encourage the growth of the white Penicillium candidum mold.
The texture of Valençay is smooth and dense with a mild, lemony, and altogether clean, bright flavor.
It pairs very well with crisp, dry white wines such as sauvignon blanc.