NOW LIVE: A Never Before Seen Interview with Sports Legend Michael Jordan

The Good Life

Vacherin Mont-D'Or

By David Savona | From "24", Jan/Feb 2006
Vacherin Mont-D'Or

When the days turn cold and darkness comes early, a man's fancy turns to thoughts of soul-warming evenings spent in front of a fire of well-cured logs of oak with a wheel of rich cheese. Happily, the season brings not only snow and ice, but one of the world's great cheeses, Vacherin Mont-d'Or.

This rich, distinct treat crafted in Switzerland near the French border—an identical version called Haute Rive is made in France—is among the rarest of cheeses. It sells only from October through March, and during those months even the best purveyors have sporadic supplies.

"Cheese connoisseurs will wait all year long to have a taste of Vacherin," says Waldemar Albrecht-Luna, fromager at Artisinal, a cheese shop and restaurant in Manhattan.

There are pasteurized versions of Vacherin, but the raw milk variety (which has to be aged 60 days to be legally imported into the United States) is more highly regarded. Its magic comes from the cows that climb the Alpine meadows of Mont-d'Or, the Golden Mountain, eating their way up the mountain, turning the soil bare. At first snow, they begin eating their way down the other side. Their first milking, with its rich fat content, goes to make Vacherin.

Vacherin is a soft cheese with a washed rind that is packed in wheels surrounded by spruce bark. Too soft to be sliced, Vacheron is best served with a spoon—simply cut into the rind and scoop out the ivory treasure inside, perhaps onto a small slice of wonderful bread, or even spooned over warm potatoes.

Beware early or late Vacherins. A wheel we found in early November was mild, bland and unimpressive. At the end of the month we sampled one at Artisinal. By contrast, it was pure, complex decadence: earthy and bold, with hints of mushrooms and truffles, backed by a steadfast creaminess that lingered on the palate for minutes and minutes after the cheese was gone. Think of it as Brie for grown-ups.

A wine expert suggested Gewürztraminer as a pairing, but we found it too sweet. A crisper white would likely work better. In the spirit of experimentation, we opted for quaffs of Armagnac, which cleansed the palate between bites, left a fresh tongue for each succeeding bite, and made a combination of rare indulgence. Savor it while you can.

Visit www.artisinalcheese.com.

Good Life Guide Gourmet

More in The Good Life

See all
Complete Michael Jordan Video Interview to Debut July 30 at 7 p.m.

Complete Michael Jordan Video Interview to Debut July 30 at 7 p.m.

On Thursday, July 30 at 7 p.m., we will be posting on CigarAficionado.com a special, uncut version of …

Jul 23, 2020
Countdown to Ecstasy

Countdown to Ecstasy

At the 2019 Big Smoke Las Vegas last November, Doug Halcomb and his Cigar Raiders crew were on a …

Jul 10, 2020
The Most Luxurious Golf Course in Las Vegas

The Most Luxurious Golf Course in Las Vegas

When it comes to the most luxurious round of golf in Vegas, it is undoubtedly the relatively new …

Jun 19, 2020
Cigar Aficionado’s 2020 Father’s Day Gift Guide

Cigar Aficionado’s 2020 Father’s Day Gift Guide

Buying dad the perfect gift for Father’s Day is a breeze if you know what he wants. To help shop for …

Jun 9, 2020
A Cigar-Lover Gets Creative During the Time of Covid

A Cigar-Lover Gets Creative During the Time of Covid

People have used their newly found downtime to learn new skills or improve on existing hobbies. For …

Jun 5, 2020
The Last Dance Review: The Final Episodes

The Last Dance Review: The Final Episodes

We all knew how this story would end, but no matter how well we thought we knew this team, surprises …

May 18, 2020