No, this is not a blue cheese – that’s a layer of ash. Be not afraid, this is one mild cheese.
While the cheese was originally made in two AOC’s, Doubs and Jura in Eastern France in the region where artisan Comté originates, it is made even more broadly today. Historically, or at least as legend has it, cheesemakers would use the remaining curds from making Comté to start this “extra cheese”. Having then to wait to either the evening milking or the next morning, they’d cast a layer of ash over the curds to deter tiny critters. Today, the charcoal streak that runs through each Morbier is merely decorative and is virtually tasteless. As it goes, Morbier is a fairly young French cheese, originating in the 19th century. It was a way too use up leftover milk that would age more quickly to be available in the markets and stalls while the gig wheel of pressed cheese aged.
Today, Morbier is fairly commonplace cheese these days, with an exotic look that dresses up your cheese board, just enough stink to appeal to your friends who like that sort of thing but with a nutty, earthy and mild flavor that most will enjoy.
Morbier can be fairly stinky, depending on maker, age and how well it was kept by your cheesemonger. I prefer mine to be less on the stinky side and higher in flavor complexity. Regardless of the stink, Morbier is always a mild flavor. Today’s example has an initial tangy acidity, it’s almost fruity but ultimately gives way to a nutty, tangy, earthy and mouth coating melt.
Morbier pairs well with burgundies and old-world Pinot Noir or any red lower on the acidity. Marsanne/Roussanne and spicy Syrah can work here too.
Where: Franche-Comté, France
Milk Type: cow (raw)
Shape: 10-15lb wheel
Tasting notes: initial acidity, fruity but ultimately nutty, tangy, earthy