Fourme d’Ambert

10229 Fourme d’Ambert

The unusual name of this cheese – Fourme d’Ambert – could make people with limited French-speaking skills avoid it, rather than risk the embarrassment of mispronouncing it. Our pronunciation guide spells it out for you: foorm dom-BEHR. You shouldn’t skip it just because it has that unusual name; it is actually an excellent blue cheese.

The Fourme d’Ambert is produced in south-central France, in the sparcely populated Auvergne region. This part of France is home many outstanding cheeses, most of them made with cow milk. There are far more cows in this part of France than there are people. The fertile volcanic soil coupled with a temperate climate and good rainfall makes this one of the best places on earth for dairy farming.

The cheese can be made from pasteurized or “uncompromised” milk. Regardless of which milk type is used it is a delectable cheese, creamy, buttery, with moderate salting and a balanced blueing. The texture is moist and just firm enough so that it can stand up on its own for hours at room temperature.

Like most cheeses, the rind is edible but the paste inside is the best part. The veining is evenly distributed throughout, against a backdrop of off-white paste. A slice of Fourme d’Ambert makes an attractive finale for a plate of cheeses.

We recommend this cheese with Sauternes, yet it can pair admirably with many other wines. Yesterday I had the opportunity to taste this cheese with 2009 Beaujolais Villages and I thought the pairing was outstanding. I also tasted it with a 2007 Moulin-à-Vent, the same producer – Louis Jadot. This wine made a nice complement as well. The Moulin-à-Vent would be my choice between the two if they were left on their own without the accompaniment of any cheese or other food. We thought that Beaujolais Villages, in its relative simplicity, made the better partner for the Fourme d’Ambert.

This is what I have noticed many times: sometimes the simpler wine is the better partner for a big cheese. The grape from which both of these Beaujolais are produced is the Gamay. I have found so many successful pairings with this varietal that I wrote a sidebar about it in my new book – Mastering Cheese, Lessons for Connoisseurship from a Maître Fromager.

Spread the curd!
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