1,000 Years of Artisanal Cheesmaking

Comté’s Flavors and Aromas

An incomparable flavor…

Fruity, flowery, mild, spicy…? Sometimes there doesn’t seem to be enough words to describe the infinite variety of flavors and aromas in Comté. Each wheel of Comté is telling us of its past. Its flavors speak of the pastures where the cows grazed, the season in which it was made, the particular craftsmanship of the cheesemaker, the time it spent in the aging cellar… Every wheel has a story, and every story is different.

Because of all of these variables, Comté is the opposite of a “standardized” cheese and is in fact characterized by a great diversity of flavor: no two wheels ever taste the same! The main sources of these variations include:

Comte flavors
The geographical origin

Agricultural practices that respect the land allow Comté to reflect the local soil, flora, microflora and climate where it was made. In 1996, a study was released showing that different fruitières produce Comté with distinctly different aromatic profiles according to where they’re located. Comté wheels produced in the same region share certain flavors and aromas while wheels made in different regions have markedly different flavor profiles.

The time of year

The cows’ diet changes with the seasons. Comté produced in winter, when the cows are fed locally harvested hay, will be paler in color than the Comté produced in spring, summer and autumn, when the cows graze on fresh plants that are high in carotene. Also, in the same pasture, the varieties of plants change from one month to the next. The cows’ diet is thus constantly changing, and this diversity has an effect on the color and taste of the cheese throughout the year.

The stages of production

The quality of the milk is directly correlated to the character of the cheese, and thus dairy farmers must handle the milk in such a way as to preserve quality and foster the rich lactic microflora, which give Comté its specific flavors. Cheesemakers and affineurs also influence the transformation of the milk and the way that the Comté wheels ripen. Cheesemakers adapt their techniques to the milk that they receive, and the affineur chooses the cellars and directs the aging process for each wheel to maximize its potential.

The length of time spent aging

The taste and texture of Comté changes as it ages. A young Comté generally has aromas of fresh butter, dried apricots and soft caramel, whereas a long-matured Comté will be more fruity, spicy and nutty.

Comté is a living cheese that is likely to surprise you every time you taste it. If your taste buds are curious, if you appreciate subtlety and authenticity, you will love Comté. Whenever possible, we advise that you ask to taste the Comté that is offered before buying it. Cheesemongers take pleasure in sharing their love of flavor and will be happy to give you a taste.

Comte Aroma WheelThe Wheel of Aromas

83 terms or descriptors have been identified that correspond to the most frequently found flavors and aromas in Comté. hey are grouped in to 6 families: lactic, fruity, roasted, vegetal, animal and spicy.

Fruity, Sweet, Spicy ?

Each wheel of Comté tells a story…

And each story is different