In France, there are 46 AOP (Protected Designation of Origin) cheeses. Among them, there are 5 AOP cheeses from Auvergne: Saint Nectaire (which serves as an all-purpose cheese), Bleu d’Auvergne and Fourme d’Ambert, (made from rye bread molds) Cantal (the most ancient with almost 2,000 years of existence) and Salers (produced with raw, farm milk and only made during a 7-month window from April to November.
The Auvergne AOP Cheese Association (AFA) was created in 1987 to bring together the Auvergne AOPs and carry out joint and concerted actions. Its mission is to promote Auvergne AOP cheeses and optimize synergies between the various stakeholders in the sector.
Auvergne is a volcanic land with landscapes whose biodiversity is of diverse richness, guaranteeing ancestral characters and high quality cheeses. Each of the 5 cheeses is made on a particular terroir, respecting specific specifications and benefiting from an AOP, guaranteeing its origin and quality.
The other Auvergne cheeses not benefiting from an appellation are: Gaperon (mixture of cow’s milk, garlic and pepper), tome d’Auvergne (tome des Neiges), Bleu de Lagueuille, ewe’s blue.
What is an AOP?
The Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) designates a product whose main production stages are carried out according to recognized know-how, in the same geographical area which gives its characteristics to the product. It is a European sign that protects the name of the country throughout the European Union. It is the notion of terroir that underpins the concept of designations of origin.
A terroir is a particular geographical area where a production takes its name directly from the specificities of its production area. Delimited space in which a human community builds, over the course of its history, collective production know-how. The terroir is based on a system of interactions between a physical and biological environment and a set of human factors. This is where the originality and typicality of the product lie.
The rules for developing a PDO are included in specifications and are subject to a control procedure implemented by an independent body approved by the INAO.
Bleu d’Auvergne is a cheese produced under AOP, blue-veined, made in Auvergne, a country of volcanic mountains marked by pastures, mainly between Puy-de-Dôme and Cantal, at an altitude of between 500 and 1,000 meters in the zone mid-mountains where cows feed on abundant and varied flora.
Bleu d’Auvergne is made using ancestral know-how passed down from generation to generation for at least 150 years. It obeys strict rules, meeting the standards set in the appellation’s specifications. Every day, the milk from the evening milking added to that of the morning is transformed into Bleu d’Auvergne.
Produced exclusively with cow’s milk, AOP Bleu d’Auvergne has a white to ivory paste, dotted with blue-green mold (Penicillium Roquefort) and a thin flowery rind that can show reflections of the same shade. It is characterized by its regular marbling and comes in the form of a cylinder of approximately 20 cm in diameter and 8 to 10 cm in height, weighing 2 to 3 kilos.
Today, nearly 1,450 farms produce milk intended for the manufacture of Bleu d’Auvergne. The cows eat a healthy diet based on grass, rich in mountain flowers (brome, gentian, Alpine clover, yarrow, yarrow, etc.) with obligatory grazing in fine weather.
The taste of Bleu d’Auvergne is fragrant and intense, it contains aromas of wild mushrooms, cream and undergrowth; its melting and creamy side gives it a unique character which improves depending on its maturation and the temperature.
Auvergne Blue Festival
Every year, for more than 20 years, Riom-ès-Montagnes has celebrated Bleu d’Auvergne for a weekend. On this occasion, all the players in the sector come together to highlight the grasslands which feed the animals and contribute to the quality of the milk.
On August 19 and 20, the Festi’Bleu association organized this emblematic festival and offered the public the opportunity to discover the production and subtle flavors of Bleu d’Auvergne, through a program of events, for the great pleasure for young and old. This year, the guests of honor were the AOP Brie de Meaux and Brie de Melun, 2 exceptional cheeses made from raw cow’s milk and with a unique taste. Music and tastings delighted the visitors, without forgetting the presence of a Mexican folk group “International Mariachissimo” which accompanied the festivities with its music and dances, during the Franco-Spanish exchanges at aperitif time. During the weekend, parents and children were able to play laser tag and cool off with electronic water guns. They were also able to attend Auvergne dance shows and equestrian performances and a hot air balloon release.
See you next year for new adventures.
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