From the pink and purple hydrangea-dotted mountainsides of the Pyrenees comes some of the best sheep’s milk cheeses France's Basque region has to offer.
These wheels are literally hand made. The cheese makers reach an arm into their kettle of warm curd and — ever so slowly — gently break it into the small pieces from which the final cheese will be formed. This ancient technique protects the fragile flavor of the finished cheese and enhances the quality of the full-flavored mountain milk. By using these old methods, a maker can get only two or three ten-pound wheels a day.
But the few cheeses made each day are marvelous. After at least six months of mellow maturing the cheese evolves into lovely, smooth, subtly fruity wheels with a nice little bit of a nose and a long, lingering sensual finish. I could eat this cheese every day for lunch.
The wheel we've just opened is especially creamy and savory, a solid '10'! I love the clean, sheepy brightness and long, rich finish.