Cheese: The Best Companion to Jura Wine

The Jura where cheese dairies are called fruitières.

© Comté

Cheese: The best companion to Jura wine

The Jura where cheese dairies are called fruitières.

© Comté

Next to wine, Comté, a hard raw milk cheese is one of the most important agricultural products of the Jura and its neighbouring regions in Eastern France. Comté cheese is considered the most popular mountain cheese in France and is closely related to Swiss Gruyère. It is now believed that the recipe was brought to the region by cheese-makers from the Gruyère district in Switzerland at the beginning of the 18th century.

In almost every village in the Jura and the surrounding areas you will find a co-operative cheese dairy that processes the milk of its farmers from the immediate area into Comté cheese. These dairies are called fruitières and their cheeses are unique to their village as well as to each season.

It is the herbs, flowers and grasses on which the cows graze that determines the basic taste of the comté, as does the subsequent period of maturation. Comté must mature for at least four months, but often it is matured much longer - up to 36 months. The longer it matures, the stronger its spicy note and the more intense its flavour.

Pairing with wine

Young Comté works well with fresh white, fruit forward Jura wines from the Savagnin grape, or Melon d'Arbois (Chardonnay) but it will also pair nicely with fruity red wines; Trousseau, Poulsard and Pinot Noir grapes are all grown locally. A middle-aged Comté goes well with Vin Jaun typé, an oxidative yellow wine without the Vin Jaune designation.

Strong, mature Comté harmonises in an almost spectacular way Vin Jaune because of its saltiness. Like Sherry, Vin Jaune wines are matured in barrels under a veil of yeast, giving them a very distinctive oxidative nutty, salty taste. A true Vin Jaune must be aged for a minimum of 6 years and 3 months before being bottled in a very distinctive 62cl bottle known as a clavelin.

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