Comté & Bubbles: Georgie Bentley-Buckle visits Buchanan’s Cheesemonger, Porchester Place in London
Being taught how to be a cheese judge, or a Comté cheese judge in particular, from the Jura Mountains (a border region to the French, Swiss) was the focus of our evening at Buchanans Cheesemongers, Porchester Place. Paired with a collection of champagne and sparkling wines, the evening led us through the subtleties of Comté cheese and its maturities. We start with a variety of cheesy canapés before being presented with our line up of five to seven months all the way up to the grand old age of 30 months.
To start, a youngster – a five to seven month Comté paired with a 2015 La Gioiosa Prosecco; we noted melted butter, roasted peanuts and almonds, the sparkling wine with fruitiness of cranberries, pomegranates and peaches. Whist another 18 month Comté paired Les Pionniers Champagne (Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier, Chardonnay) coffee and mushrooms with honey and champagne with a floral, woody finish. Being taught the subtleties throughout the maturities, the younger cheeses we discovered hold a richer colour with a softer consistency in comparison to the older Comtés which, if you picture it, are similar to parmesan; harder and paler many which form tiny crystals.
The evening ushered us through the narratives behind this French cheese. Produced on a small scale across thousands of farms who work together as one, it is a cheese full of longevity, loyally made and produced within the French Jura Mountains. In the summer months the cows are taken to areas of nourishment, high in the mountains, feeding on grasses and alpine flowers. This diet with the combination of the unpasteurized milk captures, we are told, a moment and reflects the landscape within the subtle flavours of the Comté.
The production of Comté never stops and is always evolving and therefore meaning it can never be truly mastered. Behind the narrative of this cheese, specialists test and sampling each wheel, waiting for each to reach full potential. Our evening was entitled ‘Bubbles and Comte’ and the beauty behind this alternative concept became clearer with the complementing pairings featuring the acidity of the sparkling wine, cutting through the richer flavours of the Comté.
Buchanan’s Cheesemonger describe themselves as ‘London’s premium, bespoke cheese service who endeavour to offer a flexible and tailored service to some of London’s finest restaurants and hotels.’ They specialise in only the most loved and hand selected cheeses from some 100 producers across Britain and Europe, and this high quality of care is particularly reflective since the accolade of being awarded Cheese Counter of the Year 2015 at the World Cheese Awards. Within the onsite cellars, all their cheeses are delicately tended to by the whole team, enabling the varieties to develop characteristics and qualities to, they say, an exceptional level. On Porchester Place, Buchanan’s Cheesemonger is not easy to spot but well worth a visit and throughout the week they retail their cheeses over the counter. After an evening of bubbles and Comte I’m inspired, next time try some French Comté…maybe with a bit of sparkle.
Address: Buchanans Cheesemonger, 5A Porchester Pl, London W2 2BS / 020 3441 8010, buchananscheesemonger.com