The Langres is a beautiful cheese related to the epoisses family – but slightly milder.
It is produced outside the market town of Langres, a subprefecture of the department of Haute-Marne, in the former region of Champagne-Ardenne. It was only quite recently (1991) admitted to the AOC family; prior to this date it was very much a regional cheese. The cheese is available in both pasteurised and raw cow’s milk versions.
It is characterised by a wrinkly hollow cylinder shape gained through a series of washes, first in annatto (a natural food colouring condiment) and then in Marc de Pomace, the local brandy. This allows the bacteria to develop on the rind and break down the lactic, chalky core to give a rich, sumptuous cream-line and deep flavour.
The central pâte is soft, creamy in colour, and slightly crumbly, and is surrounded by a white penicillium candidum rind. It is a less pungent cheese than Époisses de Bourgogne, its local counterpart. It is best eaten between May and August after 5 weeks of aging, but it is also excellent March through December.
It tastes salty, spicy and beefy, similar to Livarot, but not quite as pungent. The top of the cheese is concave and tradition dictates pouring a little of Champagne into it so when you cut it, it infuses the paste, making for a perfect synergy of flavours that melts in the mouth.
Pair it with any full-bodied red wines of the Bourgogne region to match its strong flavour.