Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Rigotte de Condrieu

Over the next few blog posts I'd like to share a bit more about some of the cheeses that were used on my platter in the competition.

As we're reliably informed / desperately hoping, spring is around the corner, and the peak goat's cheese season is starting in earnest. With that in mind, let's start this series of posts with the small but mighty Rigotte de Condrieu. As with all cheeses, there is effectively too much to say about this cheese to fit it into a little blog post, so I’ll just give you a taster…

Rigotte de Condrieu

It’s a small hockey puck of a cheese, made with raw goat’s milk and weighing in at a minimum of 30g. The milk has to come from certain breeds of goat that trace their lineage back to the Massif Centrale and the cheese must be made on the slopes of the Massif du Pilat just south of Lyon - A fairly desolate and remote area which can trace its goat’s cheese making back to the 18th century.

The word “Rigotte”, as far as I can tell, is a derivation of “rigol” or “rigot”, which were words used to describe small streams running off of the Massif and potentially through Condrieu, a former principle market in the region. Like so many other examples (Stilton being a classic one), the cheese takes its name after the market in which it is sold, rather than the area in which it was made.

The rigotte has an ivory coloured rind that can become blue with greater age. In the early stages of its life it has a melt (slowly) in the mouth texture which hardens to become really quite brittle (like the ones in the photos).

Its taste is uncompromisingly goaty, with hints of hazelnut, and, when young, a slight acidic tang.

Hockey puck shape, perfect for
warming through and adding to salads
This is a cheese that goes well warmed through slightly in a salad, or when aged and fairly dry in texture, is excellent as an aperitif. An obvious wine match would be a Condrieu, but essentially, something white and slightly oaked, and neither too dry nor too acidic will be great.

As a brief aside, it’s worth noting that the Rigotte de Condrieu occupies a rather unusual position of being recognised under the French Appellation d'Origine Controlee (AOC) system but not the European Appellation d’Origine Protégée (AOP). The reasoning is that in the eyes of Europe the Rigotte has yet to prove that its qualities and characteristics derive essentially from its geographic environment. They’re currently working on proving that link pretty hard I believe.

The various systems of geographic protection (AOP and AOC etc…) are wonderfully interesting and bureaucratic, and really deserve space of their own to describe. I'll go into more detail about this and try to decode some of the complexities in a future post. 

The brittle texture of an aged Rigotte,,,

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