| Saint-Nectaire. Photo: Artisanal Cheese |
For those who enjoy the creamy supple texture of Brie and the nutty earthy taste of Salers, Saint-Nectaire is a must-try. Coming from the Auvergne, the same region of France as Salers, it combines the best of both cheeses, but the experience of eating it is like savoring a particularly rich smooth peanut butter and drinking a glass of rich, flavorful raw cow's milk.
This cow's-milk cheese is made from the milk of the renowned Salers cows that graze at an altitude of 3,000 feet. Similar to the cheese Salers, the rich soil consists of volcanic ash (hence, lots of minerals) and imparts a distinct flavor on Saint-Nectaire.
However, unlike Salers, Saint-Nectaire has an unctuous consistency, similar to Brie, and a one-of-a-kind exquisite light-brown-grayish rind with, at times, white, yellow and red molds. It can have either a washed rind or a natural rind. The different molds, intentionally brought out by the affineur, create the cheese's distinct rustic appearance and earthy floral taste. As far back as the Middle Ages, cheesemakers have been aging Saint-Nectaire on rye mats in tunnels and caves that run through the Auvergne.