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Village Maid Cheese
United Kingdom
6 ins diameter, 2 ins high high
3 lbs
Semi Soft

Somewhat unconventionally, Anne and Andy Wigmore's creamery is located in a converted garage at the end of their garden in the village of Risely in Berkshire, England. There, they make three excellent cheeses: Spenwood, Wigmore and Waterloo

As a graduate from the school of Dairy Science at Reading University, Anne, together with her husband Andy, began making cheese during the 1980's. They were spurred on in this effort by Patrick Rance, who owned a cheese shop nearby and whose passionate desire to prevent small-scale British cheesemakers from disappearing altogether resulted in a renaissance of British cheese production.

The Wigmores' Village Maid Cheese Company has, over the years, played an important role in the re-introduction of sheep's milk cheese to Britain. Sheep's milk cheeses had almost disappeared by the 18th century and it is only in rlatively recent times - since the 1980's that they have startd to make a comeback. However, in the early days of their business when they required only small quantities of milk, ironically it was far easier to buy in small amounts of sheep's milk than cow's milk. That, in addition to becoming inspired by the sheep's milk cheeses of Sardinia after a holiday there, proved to be the main deciding factors for their sheep cheese production.

For production of their Wigmore cheese, the Anne and Andy source sheep's milk from dairies in Warwickshire and Northamptonshire. During production, the curds are washed, meaning that a quantity of the whey is removed from the vat and replaced with water. This has the effect of reducing acidity and, characteristically, cheeses produced in this way tend to have smooth, yielding, semi soft textures.

After the whey/water is drained off, the curds are packed into the molds to drain further. After unmolding and drying, the cheeses are then ripened for two to three months befor release.

The bloomy rind of Wigmore is pale brown in color and slightly reminiscent of rumpled suede. Aromas are yeasty and soft.

The interior is soft and luxurious and peppered with "eyes," or small holes, and can become runny in the more mature cheeses.

Flavors when young are clean, milky and accompanied by a lactic tang. With age these transform to slowly reveal an array of delicate, memorable flavors including caramel, grass, hay and citrus.