Valençay

Region: Pays de la Loire, France
Type of Milk: Raw Goat’s milk
Texture: soft

Valençay is one of the classic raw milk mold-ripened chèvres from the Loire Valley in the central western region of France. The AOC has designated that Valencay is one of France’s elite cheeses. Century-old techniques are used to make Valençay.

The Valençay’s form is a four-sided, truncated pyramid from berrichon goat’s raw milk. History tells us that the original shape was a perfect pyramid. The shape of the Valencay was changed according to two stories. Napoléon returning from the disastrous campaign in Egypt stopped at the castle of Valençay ; saw the cheese ; in a fit of anger draw his sword and chopped the top off. Needless to say it was one of Napoleon’s favourite cheeses.

The Valençay is made by allowing the curd to drain in a mould, it is then removed and covered with salted charcoal ash and allowed to ripen for about 4 to 5 weeks in a well ventilated cellar at 80% humidity. During this period the rind of the Valençay will thicken slightly and acquire blue marks.

When young, the white cheese can be seen through the ash. Gradually the colors merge and blue-gray moulds appear with a startling white paste interior. A light moussey texture and saltier taste than other goat’s cheeses. When young it’s very moist, tangy and slightly nutty but evolves into a smooth, dense and lip-smacking cheese over time.  It is fairly moist when it is young, hardening to a grating consistency when aged. The aroma is not too goat-like, but with a citrus tang. The older the cheese the stronger the flavour becomes. After ripening in the caves at Artisanal, the texture is smooth and dense.

Valençay is a versatile pairing partner for most dry white wines, we especially recommend that you pair Valençay with a crisp Muscadet, a flowery Sauvignon Blanc, or a honeyed Chinon. Fresher goat cheeses are also a good match to lightly spiced beers.