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May 27, 2013 10:32 AM

Roquefort Producers

A few times Carles and Vieux Berger have been mentioned as the top two Roquefort producers on this Cheese board. I've only had the chance to try Gabriel Coulet (sometimes named as third in line), Papillon, and Societe'. In the San Francisco marketplace, Carles runs around $40 per pound (on the rare occasions it's available), Coulet about $27, and Societe, $16.

I'm wondering if those who have tasted more widely could please handicap the producers for us and describe the stylistic differences. I'd like to understand the quality vs. price comparison.

"The Secrets of Roquefort" lists the seven producers shown below:

Roquefort Papillon 8 bis ave de Lauras.

Roquefort Gabriel Coulet 3 ave de Lauras ,

Roquefort Société 2 ave François Galtier,

Roquefort Carles 6 ave de Lauras,

Yves Combes Roquefort Le Vieux Berger, Avenue du Combalou,

Vernières Frères Quartier Saint Jean,

Les Fromageries Occitanes Avenue de Lauras,

And this piece, "My Cheese, My Self", a personal tale of one woman's relationship with Roquefort, mentions that Societe makes three different varieties. What are the differences?

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  1. Both Papillon and Societe make a 'heart' version that is just that, the center of a wheel.
    Papillon also makes a washed rind from the same milk called Caruchon.
    Gabriel Coulet makes three differently period aged Roqueforts- standard is the 8 month, followed by the one year , which is the one most frequently seen. At their booths at various food markets around France they also sell a two year product which when unwrapped is pudding-like in texture and one of my top few cheeses ever.
    Vernieres l see rarely and Occitanes l have never seen.

    4 Replies
    1. re: Delucacheesemonger

      Thanks for the rundown! I was introduced to Coulet's Roquefort just last year. In San Francisco, Rainbow Grocery and Gourmet & More stock it, there may be others. I love the creamy sweetness of the paste, almost like a cross with gorgonzola dolcelatte. Guess that would be the one-year-old. That two-year sounds like the stuff of dreams. Anyway, I like it so much, it was curious to me to hear that Carles and Vieux Berger might offer more to love.

      A new cheese counter in Palo Alto had told me that Vernieres would be arriving soon. . . then sadly the place closed down the next week. If I were more OCD (scary!) I'd be running around looking for it somewhere else around here.

      A few years ago, a friend brought a French grad student to a wine tasting gathering and I learned he was from the Roquefort area and that his family sold milk to the Papillon. I wasn't familiar with it at the time, and he brought some that he bought at the Cheeseboard in Berkeley. My recollection is that I found it more buttery and less salty than the stronger and more biting Societe. For a washed rind lover like me, the Caruchon sounds like the stuff of dreams. Is it also blue'd?

      1. re: Melanie Wong

        Not blue at all, looks like a Pont L'Eveque.
        If you can't find any particular Roquefort, l can maybe bring it back in the fall for you.

        1. re: Delucacheesemonger

          Thank you, such a gentleman. But this would add one more reason for me to return to France to continue my cheese hunt that was cut short last year.

      2. re: Delucacheesemonger

        I actually dreamed I had a 36-month Roquefort last night! "Sweet dreams are made of cheese...."

      3. This report is for you Melanie. In Paris on this weekend is the Fetes de Aveyron and has been for many years. It occurs on the Ave de Aubrac ( the name of the breed of cow from that area) near Cour St Emilion on the ligne 14.
        After a chow lunch of four hours and 9 courses at Chez L'Ami Jean l waddled to this outdoor festival on a very chilly day.
        The place has about 60 booths, ranging from local beef, laguiole knives, got two of mine sharpened, numerous sausages, aligot, foie gras and duck, and about 10 cheese booths. While some of the booths were cow's milk cheese, there were Roquefort producers.
        Thus l got to taste and compare all their offerings.
        *Societe offered three,
        Normal- quite dry and strong and the saltiest of the lot
        Blanderie-Far creamier and less salty, excellent 3rd fav
        Third he had not unloaded, so have to go back tomorrow
        Bought Larzac, a butter and roq smush in a small pottery jar that is and has always been awesome.
        *Vernaison-one product, bitingly salty, not unpleasant but
        tough on its own.
        *Carles-One product only, very very good, 2nd fav, just creamy enough.
        G Coulet-8 month-bit dry and mild, black foil wrap
        16 month-this is the one you get in the States, orange wrapped foil, creamy not too salty wonderful
        24 month-This as stated above is one of my top 5 cheeses. This product is not only not in US, it is not in France except at the factory and these little fairs. And for $16/lb. Comes in dark green foil wrap.
        l am a very happy camper.

        2 Replies
        1. re: Delucacheesemonger

          Oh the sacrifices you've made for the good of our cheese community! Thank you, and I need to get back on the hunt stateside for the range.

          1. re: Delucacheesemonger

            I am so envious! Did you have the rice pudding? People keep grumbling about L'Ami Jean but it is one of my happiest memories though it has been six years since I had the great fun of eating there. Does Astier still have a great cheese board?