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May 21, 2013 11:13 AM

Brebirousse d'Argental

Purchased at Big John's market in Healdsburg, CA, this was one of my few encounters with a soft-ripened sheep's milk cheese. The bulge of the paste's ooze caught our eye in the case. Noting the ruddy hue of the rind, I thought it might be a Taleggio lookalike. But turns out that the color comes from a rub of annatto for color rather than b-linens.

The aroma was more in the mushroom vein of a white bloomy cheese rather than the pungency of washed rinds. The texture's remarkably silken and feels very luscious on the palate, more akin to cow than sheep milk. It spreads beautifully. Rather mild with a sweet buttery personality, we expected more gaminess at this level of maturity. An understated and polite cheese, for sure, with just a bit of lactic tang and grassiness revealing sheep origins.

From the region near Lyon, France.

Création Fromi:

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  1. Suspect the lack of gaminess is due to it being a pasteurized product rather than au lait cru. If you can locate the strange Corsican ones like a filleta or a pecorino, both in their raw state you will get your gaminess.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Delucacheesemonger

      Could well be.

      I mean, seeing how this cheese escaped onto the board and that it's ewe's milk, doesn't it look like it should be interesting? Our expectations of complexity were pretty high.

    2. I had some cheese last year just called Brebirousse, supposedly from the Auvergne region of France, which my shaky geographic memory says neighbors Argental. It looked much like your picture, ewes milk, pale yellow, bloomy rind, very slight odor. A little too 'polite' for me to search out again.

      6 Replies
      1. re: DonShirer

        Sounds like we have a match!

        I appreciate the second opinion. I've been googling around to see what others say on the web. Seems to have fans who talk about the complexity and scent . . . but maybe they're comparing it to mozzarella? :)

        1. re: Melanie Wong

          I really like it, but that's comparing it to other triple creme cheeses, not to washed rind cheeses. If you were expecting a washed rind cheese, no wonder you were disappointed.

          1. re: Ruth Lafler

            Naw, not comparing to a washed rind. I thought it would taste more like a sheep milk cheese, that's what I mean by gamey.

            P.S. It's not triple creme.

            1. re: Melanie Wong

              I don't find sheep milk cheeses to be gamey like goat's milk cheeses.

              Sheep's milk has about twice the fat content of cow's milk to begin with.

              1. re: Ruth Lafler

                I'm just going by the label (in the photo) which says 50% matière grasse. If the milk used to produce this was not further enriched, than this would be close to double the fat content of cow's milk.

                Isn't triple creme ~70% or above? Or is this ratio weighed differently for ewe's milk . . . I dunno.

                1. re: Melanie Wong

                  Geez, getting all technical on me! All right. It's rich and creamy. I like it better than rich and creamy cows' milk cheeses of the non-stinky variety. Okay?