Petit Langres AOC
A Creamy Champagne Fount
The Langres (its smaller size is called the Petit Langres) has an indent in the center which allows for the traditional pouring of white wine or—as it is from the same region—Champagne. This cheese has been around since the 17th century, but only gained AOC and DOP status in the 1990s.
TASTING NOTES FROM THE CURATOR
This washed-rind cheese gains its sunken, soufflé-like top (“la fontaine” or “la curvette”) because it is not turned as it matures. Brine is allowed to seep into the interior of the cheese, giving it its richness, pungency, and fruity flavor. The yellow color comes from the inclusion of annatto in the washing brine during a maturing process that lasts from fifteen days to one month for the Petit Langres and two to three months for the full-sized Langres disc. The pâté is firm and supple, but melts in the mouth, and the more mature disks have an almost spicy tang.
PREPARATION OR PAIRINGS
For a show-stopping beginning to an intimate evening, this cheese is perfect. Traditionally, one pours Champagne or Marc au Bourgogne into the sunken top. This preparation goes well with a glass of Bordeaux or Burgundy wine, a light salad, and a baguette split for two.
Other wine choices include a structured white like Gewürtztraminer or Pinot Gris, a low-tannin red like Beaujolais or Lambrusco, an ice wine, or an indulgent Quevedo 10-Year-Old Tawny Port.
A CHEESE TO SING ABOUT
The history of Langres can be traced back to Champagne, France in the 13th century. It was first mentioned in a song composed by a travelling Dominican monk in the city of Langres. This cheese enjoyed periods of popularity and decline till after World War II, when a union of cheesemakers from Champagne made it their goal to obtain AOC status for it—which they did in 1991. It gained DOP status with the EU only five years later.
Cheeses (except brined ones in jars) should be stored in the crisper or the butter drawer of a refrigerator, not on the shelves themselves. This is to help regulate their temperature and humidity levels—and prevents the formation of mold. Once opened, they should not be kept in their original packaging. Soft cheeses with delicate rinds need to breathe, so they are best placed in glass containers lined with paper towels to absorb extra moisture. Leave the lid open a tiny bit for air to circulate. Cheeses are air-flown from France on demand. They are meant to be consumed within 1 to 2 weeks of their arrival at your residence.