Produced in the village of Morez in the Jura mountains of France, Morbier dates from the 19th century, when it was traditionally made by the producers of the French cheese, Comte. Initially, Morbier was made for home consumption by the cheesemakers. However, since Morbier took much less time to mature than the massive, 90lb. Comte wheels, cheesemakers could increase their cash flow through selling Morbier.
In the evening, after cheesemaking had finished, there would often be a small quantity of curd remaining. A layer of ash (often from burned grape vines) was sprinkled on top to prevent a rind from forming and kept the insects away until the next day when the remaining curd from that day would be placed on top to "complete" the cheese.
Today the horizontal layer of ash is purely decorative, in deference to original production methods. Production may be fermier, cooperative or industrial and is protected by AOC designation.
During production, Morbier is uncooked and pressed, after which wheels are matured for two months. During this time cheeses are washed periodically with salt water. This encourages the development of the rind and is what gives the rind its pink-orange color, pungent aroma and slight stickyness. The shape of a matured wheel of Morbier is that of a large, flat disc with slightly bulging sides.
The texture of Morbier is semi soft, supple and springy, with small "eyes,"' or holes, and the distinctive layer of ash running horizontally thought the center. The color of the paste is a creamy-straw yellow, darkening towards the rind. The rind is edible and often has slightly crunchy granules present.
Flavors are much milder than the pungent aroma would indicate, and include hints of fruit, barnyard, grass and citrus.
Morbier is excellent served with Gewurztraminer or Pinor Noir.