Cheese lovers the world over rejoice in the beauty that is Comté. The pride of the Jura for nearly one thousand years, each wheel of Comté provides us with it’s own unique bouquet of flavors and aromas.
But in order for those wheels to reach their full potential there is the all important step of affinage (ageing). The AOC guidelines for Comté allow for the selling of the cheese at about 4 months. However the best cheeses are aged for significantly longer, at least 10 to 20 months time.
Many of the best specimens undergo this process at the esteemed Cellars of the Fort Antoine. Originally an army barracks situated high in the Jura mountains, it was converted to a cheese ripening facility in 1966; the brainchild of Messr. Marcel Petite. His concept was to slowly ripen the wheels at a lower temperature, thus coaxing the maximum flavor from each lovingly nurtured specimen.
The temperature and humidity controlled caves of Fromageries Marcel Petite are outfitted with wooden racks that tower to the ceiling, holding some 100,000 cheeses. Each day wheels are turned , washed , and brushed to further develop flavors and texture. Nowadays this part of the process is carried out by mechanical cheese robots, however the process is far from devoid of the human touch.
Cellar Masters go about the methodical work of tapping and tasting core samples of each lot of cheeses to keep abreast of their development. Fromageries Marcel Petite will, in some cases, age selected wheels for particular retailers, which are refined to the tastes of their buying public.
In shops one can typically find these cheeses bearing the Petite name (e.g. “Comté 12-15 months Marcel Petite”). Do seek these cheeses out at your local shop; satisfaction is guaranteed!