Fleur de la Vallee
Steve and Veronica Baetje have been making cheese at Baetje Farms in the foothills of the Ozarks since 2006. The Baetjes keep a large herd of Saanen dairy goats, and produce cheese along with several employees.
The day's milking begins each morning at 4 am, and the rest of the day is spent turning that milk into cheese, shipping cheese, handling sales calls and making local deliveries. Goats receive an unlimited supply of filtered spring water to drink from the farm’s spring, and their diet—an all-natural antibiotic-free whole grain ration—is supplemented with organic herbal teas, mineral supplements, locally grown alfalfa hay, and the farm’s pasture. The milking season begins with the birth of spring kids and each doe receives a rest in the winter, giving the goats a break for several months a year.
Made from a mix of sheep and goat’s milk—and sometimes in a 100 percent goat's milk version—Fleur de la Vallee is a semi-soft cheese with a washed rind. In making the cheese, curd is cut and lightly pressed, rounds are brined, and then washed, turned, and flipped on racks for at least four weeks.
Flavor is complex and full-bodied, reminiscent of toasted bread with butter, meaty bacon and eggs, and faint notes of toasted onion. The aroma is also rich with notes of fermented wheat, barley, hops and yeast, and a slight sweetness.
Pair it with a barbera, a merlot, or a hoppy beer.