Sainte-Maure de Touraine AOC
The Sainte-Maure de Touraine AOC is an excellent, mild, 45% fat, goats’ cheese made with unpasteurized milk with a light, nutty, taste. Each cheese is matured for at least ten days before being sold. A cheese must weigh between 250 and 300 grams. When the cheese is ready to be sold, it is covered in ash. Like other goats’ cheeses, the taste of the Sainte-Maure de Touraine changes and gets stronger as the cheese matures. I noted that this is a mild cheese; nevertheless, as it ages it still gives a fair bite. When you buy this cheese in a fromagerie, ask how old it is.I enjoy the older cheeses, but for a salad you will want a milder cheese. A version made with a pasteurized milk is made for export.
Sainte-Maure de Touraine with its signature straw.
N.B. The name Sainte-Maure on its own, without the “de Touraine,” is a generic name that can be produced anywhere. Outside France, the Sainte Maure produced is often not a goat’s milk cheese. Look carefully at the Saint-Maure, without the “de Touraine” that you are considering buying. The better industrial versions are goat’s milk cheeses and are produced in Touraine and in Poitou-Charentes. The French “Sainte-Maure” cheeses are practically never covered in ash. As good mass-produced cheeses, they do not go out of their way to mislead the consumer. They rely on their taste to bring the customers back, not ambiguous coverings.
For the AOC/AOP version of the Sainte-Maure de Touraine, the length is specified between 16-18cm (6”-7”) and the width 4.5-5.5cm ( 2”). The noticeable feature of a traditional Sainte-Maure de Touraine is the piece of straw that runs through the middle. The original reason for the straw was to assist in the cheese maturing evenly as the straw allows air to reach the center of the cheese. Today each straw is marked with the identification of the farm or dairy which made the cheese. Now others have copied the idea and have put straws in the center of their cheeses as a marketing ploy.
The country around Saint-Maure de Touraine.
The recipe for the Sainte- Maure de Touraine cheese is one of the oldest in France; its history can be followed back to the 8th or at the latest the 9th century CE. The small and beautiful town of Sainte-Maure de Touraine that gave the cheese its name is in the department of Indre-et-Loire in the région of the Val du Loire. The cheese is also made over the border in the department of Indre, part of the ancient province of Berry. Together the two departments of Indre and Indre-et-Loire offer five AOP cheeses: the Crottin de Chavignol AOP; the Valençay AOP; Pouligny Saint Pierre AOP; Selles sur Cher, AOP as well as the Sainte-Maure de Touraine AOP. All are goat’s milk cheeses. Additionally, the area produces many other excellent cheeses that do not have an AOP. To taste most of these cheeses, you will have to visit the region as their limited production is snapped up by the locals. If you are in the area visit a local Fromagerie, a cheese shop, and buy 100 grams of two or three local goat’s cheeses, a baguette, a bottle of a cold local white wine and enjoy. If you are traveling in the area then drive over the border into the department of Indre and you will find more to enjoy. For background on the initials, AOC and AOP seen on many French and European Union wines and foods click here.
The production area of Sainte-Maure de Touraine
Apart from cheese, this is wine country, and you will see many AOC/AOP wines. The Touraine wines include reds, roses, and whites. Look for the Touraine-Amboise AOC, the Touraine-Azay-le-Rideau AOC, the Touraine-Mesland AOC, the Touraine-Noble Joué AOC, the Touraine-Chenonceaux AOC, and the Touraine-Oisly AOC. Other wines that come from the ancient province of Touraine include Chinon AOC, Vouvray AOC, Montlouis-sur-Loire AOC, Saint-Nicolas-de-Bourgueil AOC and the Bourgueil AOC and the IGP Val-de-Loire.
Their sparkling wines include the Touraine-Mousseux AOC, Touraine-Pétillant AOC, and the Crémant de Loire AOC. Remember that the sweetness grades for sparkling wines are very different to still wines. At the end of the post on France’s Cremants and at the end of the post on Champagne are lists that may assist when ordering or buying sparkling wines.
The new initials and names on French wine labels.
For wines, there are new initial and names on the labels of French and European Union wines. The AOP and IGP initials have new meanings and the Vin de Pays has ceased to be used as a wine grade. The French grade of Vin Table, table wine, has also ceased to be used. Along with the new and regulations,a grade called the Vin de France has been added. For more information on these initials and labels click here.
Crémant de Loire Rosé de Bouvet Ladubay
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