1,000 Years of Artisanal Cheesmaking

In the Cellar (Aging Comté)

  • Comté takes time to acquire its flavor. It is in the silence and shadowy darkness of the affinage cellars that Comté will undergo its second transformation. Each wheel is turned regularly and rubbed with salt. With meticulous care, the aromatic development of the cheese is encouraged over a period of several months.
  • At the end of its time in the affinage cellar (ranging from a minimum of 4 months, to 18 or 24 months, or longer depending on the wheel), each wheel of Comté has developed a “personality,” with a unique texture, color and distinctive range of flavors.
  • Comté wheels are aged on locally harvested spruce boards. Not only are the boards part of the traditional methods of production, but scientific studies have shown that they also protect specific microflora that are indispensable to the taste and sanitary qualities of Comté.

  • Depending on the characteristics of the cheese, the affineur (cellar master) may use a series of different types of cellars: “warm cellars” (57 to 66˚F) and “cold cellars” (less than 57˚F). Warm cellars encourage a faster ripening of the cheese and the development of certain flavors, while cold cellars support a slower evolution of the cheese and different flavors. The lactic microflora in raw milk, still present in the cheese, also affect the way that it matures. The resulting cheeses will therefore vary, even if they have been aged in exactly the same way.
  • The Jura Massif has 16 Comté affineurs (aging facilities), each with unique aging techniques depending on the location, the atmosphere in the cellars and the particular style of the affineur.

Affinage

  • After aging in the cellars, each wheel of Comté is tested and given a rating out of 20. The rating covers the taste as well as the physical appearance of the wheel. Wheels that score over 14 points are given a green band: Comté Extra. Wheels that score 12-14 points are given a brown band (this may be due to only a small fault in the appearance of an otherwise excellent cheese). Wheels that score less than 12 points are excluded from carrying the official Comté label.
  • “Green” or “brown” bands are both authentic and have been aged for at least 4 months. The color of the band has no bearing upon the age of the cheese or the typology of the taste.