Get 1 Year of Cigar Aficionado for Just $24.95 + A Free Gift!

The Good Life

Vacherin Mont-D'Or

By David Savona | From "24", Jan/Feb 2006

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
Milwaukee Bucks Celebrate NBA Finals Victory With Cigars

Milwaukee Bucks Celebrate NBA Finals Victory With Cigars

The team smoked up some Cuban Romeo y Julietas while spraying champagne in the locker room.

Jul 22, 2021
Driving The McLaren 620R

Driving The McLaren 620R

The new McLaren 620R is the first car in its class to offer true motorsports credentials in a fully …

Jun 4, 2021
Cigar Aficionado’s 2021 Father’s Day Gift Guide

Cigar Aficionado’s 2021 Father’s Day Gift Guide

Say “Happy Father’s Day” with one of these gifts.

Jun 3, 2021
S.T. Dupont Line D Fire-head Guilloche Pens

S.T. Dupont Line D Fire-head Guilloche Pens

Firing up S.T. Dupont’s new luxe pens.

May 11, 2021
On Sale Now: Tickets To Big Smoke Meets WhiskyFest

On Sale Now: Tickets To Big Smoke Meets WhiskyFest

The day has come to get your tickets to the inaugural Big Smoke Meets WhiskyFest.

Apr 13, 2021
Macanudo Sponsoring Barstool Sports Golf Tournament

Macanudo Sponsoring Barstool Sports Golf Tournament

General Cigar Co. is sponsoring all 26 Barstool Sports events across the country.

Mar 30, 2021
z