The masterpiece known as Comte cheese originated in the Jura Mountains centuries ago. Today it is one of the most sought-after cheeses, because of its complex aromas that range anywhere from salty and nutty to fruity tones. Each Comte wheel is aged anywhere between six and eighteen months which gives it a longer shelf life and fuller taste and aroma. It's a cheese that savors of time and tradition, and is deeply connected to its land. Charles Arnaud Comte is one of the finest of its category; it is extra aged for 15 months. With its spicy flavor and rich texture, it elevates any traditional dish to new heights. If you haven't tried it before, sample our monthly recipes, you'll find them to be a savory treat!
Comte cheese is the product of inhabitants of the Jura Mountains seeking a collective solution to survive the harsh long winter months. Centuries ago, only large cheeses kept long enough to meet the needs of an entire family all through the cold season. The cheeses longevity and its improvement with time also made it a product that could be exported outside of the region. So, in a cooperative style, the farmers pooled their milk supplies to create a cheese that was meant to be kept. There are documents dating as far back as the Middle Ages already mentioning these fromageries (a.k.a. cheesemaking houses). Centuries have passed, and they are still the nexus of the village organizations. Today, there are 175 fromageries faithfully producing Comte according to tradition. Comte is made from the milk of a single breed of mountain cow, the Montbeliarde, grazing on the slopes of the Jura region. It is France's largest cheese, weighing 88 plus pounds, and requires over 130 gallon of milk to produce, on average.
The Fromagerie Charles Arnaud, founded in 1907, still belongs to the Arnaud family. Today, run by Jean-Charles Arnaud, the Arnaud fromagerie is one of the most prestigious cheese producers in the region, and is requested by the best Parisian cheese shops. Passion and professionalism are what ultimately characterize Jean-Charles Arnaud. His ambitious dream to install the cheese-maturing cellars in the caves of the Fort des Rousses, a local fort, became true in the late 1990's. Fort des Rousses, (at 3, 7700 feet above sea level) was built by Napoleon Bonaparte in the mid-1800s for its strategic position. Though Jean-Charles performed his military service there, the fort was decommissioned by the military in 1997. A year later, after Arnaud's purchase, the forts natural cellars became the incredible new maturing houses, or "maison d'affinage" of Comte. These naturals caves, among the largest in Europe, provide ideal conditions, with thick walls, a constant temperature, and natural humidity. It is during this maturing, sometimes taking up to 15 months, that the Comte acquires most of its flavor and color. Modern controls assure that each wheel maintains the traditional rules of affinage through each step of the process. The fromagerie Charles Arnaud has received numerous accolades for its extraordinarily rich and flavorful Comte; it most recently won the 2007 Gold Medal at the World Cheese Awards in Paris.