Cheese and Wine tend to work very well together (please see my last infographics about this here – click). But Comté is a multiform cheese. Its taste and aromas depend on the micro-region where it was produced, the local microflora, the season in which the cheese was made, the distinctive style of the cheesemaker, the cellar where it was matured…This can lead to very diverse and interesting wine matchings.
What is Comté ?
- Comté is a cheese made in the mountainous “massif du Jura” in the East of France
- It is a hard pressed and cooked cheese
- It is an AOC (Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée) since 1958 and AOP (Appellation d’Origine Protégée) since1996
- It is prodeuced only with raw cow’s milk (the one that is full of bacteria… and taste… and that our American friends do not like)
- The only cow’s breeds that are allowed are Montbéliarde and Simmental (much less used)
- The minimum cheese ageing is 4 months
- 2600 farmers take part in the production of Comté
- It is produced in small coops called “fruitières“
Which wine with comté ?
There is not one but many comté. Its taste and aromas depend on the micro-region where it was produced, the local microflora, the season in which the cheese was made, the distinctive style of the cheesemaker, the cellar where it was matured… Therefore wine matchinsg will be diverse.
- With a young lactic Comté, neither the wine nor the cheese will compliment each other. They will not do any harm to each other, but nothing magical will ever happen in the palate. If you want to try something great, you’da rather try coffee. Yes, really. It does work very well with young lactic comté that develop aromas of butter and fresh milk, perfect for breakfast!
- With a fruity Comté, developing for example aromas of apricot and citrus, you should go for a rich and fruity white, such as a white from the Rhône or the Languedoc, made from aromatic grape varieties (Roussanne, Marsanne, Rolle, Viognier, etc.).
- With a Comté that develops aromas of torrefaction (caramel, grilled toast, coffee…), you had rather choose a red with some smoky notes, such as an old Châteauneuf du Pape or a St Estèphe. You could also choose a rich white with nutty notes such as an old Roussanne or a “vin Jaune” from Jura, with oxydative notes.
- With a Comté showing some vegetal notes (hay, very common for winter cheese, when cows are inside fed with hay) or grass, your best option will probably be a beer…
- With a Comté that shows some animaly notes (leather) you will create some fabulous pairings with a wine showing the same aromas but with a lot of finesse, such as an old Côte Rôtie or a Nuis St Georges.
- Last but not least, for a spicy Comté you will find what you need amongst the spicy Grenache of the Rhône (Rasteau) or Syrah from the Languedoc (Pic St loup).
Beware, as always in terms of Food & Wine pairings, these are just guidelines but there is no rule. Each wine is different, even within the same region, so you need to adapt case by case… and also be adventurous and try some new things!
What is sure is that, as most cheeses, Comté does not like tannic and oaked wines. Therefore you should choose unoaked wines or wines with polished tannins by some bottle ageing.