Sainte Maure Caprifeuille - One of My New Favorite Goat Cheeses
If you enjoy goat cheese and are looking for one to serve to friends or enjoy at home with a piece of French bread, I recommend you look at Caprifeuille.
I was looking for a cheese to serve at a small dinner party with some friends over the holidays and asked my friend Cheese-man Jack for a recommendation, and he came up with Sainte-Maure Caprifeuille.
At first, he wanted to sell me an older version of this cheese, "same cheese only aged 2 - 3 months longer," but much firmer with a stronger taste. We talked about it and decided to go with the younger brother, who is just as good but slightly milder.
Sainte Maure Caprifeuille is a renowned artisanal cheese from the Loire Valley in France. This goat's milk cheese is named after the small town of Sainte-Maure-de-Touraine, where it was traditionally made.
It is characterized by its distinctive log shape and ash-coated rind, which develops a velvety, wrinkled texture as it matures. Beneath the surface lies a creamy, ivory-colored interior with a smooth and delicate taste, balancing tangy and earthy flavors.
Sainte Maure Caprifeuille is highly regarded for its complex and nuanced profile, making it a beloved choice for cheese connoisseurs seeking a unique and satisfying culinary experience.
What's In a Name
Don't be confused with Sainte Maure de Touraine, another goat cheese from the same region that's similar but different. Caprifeuille is an aged (about 10 days) cheese made from fresh goat's milk with a "granulose" rind that's fine to eat but also easily removable for those who don't like the rind.
Once you get inside, that's where the fun begins. When young, the smooth, white interior paste is creamy and tart. Some say it even has a "lemony" taste.
As this cheese ages, and I'm talking about weeks to months, the cheese loses moisture and becomes firmer and slightly crumbly. With age, the flavor takes on a sweeter, nutty taste that should please any goat cheese lover.
The history of Sainte Maure Caprifeuille cheese dates back several centuries. It is believed to have originated in the 8th century in the Loire Valley region of France.
The cheese comes from Sainte-Maure-de-Touraine, where local farmers traditionally produced it. Initially, it was made exclusively from goat's milk, common livestock in the region.
The ash coating on the cheese's rind served practical purposes, helping preserve and protect the delicate cheese during aging. Over time, Sainte Maure Caprifeuille gained popularity and recognition, becoming a cherished cheese in French gastronomy and eventually reaching international acclaim as a fine artisanal cheese. Today, it remains a symbol of the rich cheese-making heritage of the Loire Valley.
What Does It Taste Like?
Sainte Maure Caprifeuille cheese offers a unique and delightful taste experience. Its flavor profile is a harmonious combination of tangy and earthy notes. The creamy ivory interior is smooth and luscious on the palate.
The cheese imparts a pleasant, mild tanginess reminiscent of goat's milk, balanced by subtle hints of earthiness and nuttiness. The cheese develops more complex flavors as it ages, deepening in richness and acquiring a slightly sharper taste. It delivers a delicate and nuanced taste that is satisfying and memorable, making it a favorite among cheese enthusiasts and connoisseurs.
The Short of It
- Milk Type: goat's milk
- Region: Loire Valley
- Country: France
- Type: Soft to Semi-Soft
- Shape: Log
- Taste: Tart, lemony, acid and a little salty
- Aroma: Floral, Fresh, Goaty
- Fat content: 50%
- Aging Time: About 10 days
- Texture: Dense and crumbles easily
- Rind: Bloomy
- Color: Exterior - Dusty Chalky White, Interior - White
What To Serve With Caprifeuille
- Crusty Baguette: A classic choice to enjoy with cheese, the crusty baguette provides a neutral base and adds a delightful crunch.
- Honey: The sweet and floral notes of honey can beautifully complement the tangy flavors of the cheese, creating a harmonious balance.
- Fresh Fruits: Slices of ripe figs, grapes, or pears can offer a touch of natural sweetness and a refreshing contrast to the cheese.
- Nuts: Walnuts, almonds, or hazelnuts can provide a pleasant crunch and a nutty flavor that pairs well with the creamy texture of the cheese.
- Sliced Prosciutto or Salami: The savory and salty characteristics of cured meats can create a delectable combination with the tangy and creamy cheese flavors.
When pairing wine with Sainte Maure or other similar goat's milk cheeses, you generally want to consider wines that complement and balance the cheese's tangy and creamy flavors. Here are some wine options that can be delightful with Sainte Maure:
- Sauvignon Blanc: A crisp and acidic Sauvignon Blanc, particularly those from the Loire Valley, can harmonize with the cheese's acidity while adding citrus and herbal notes.
- Sancerre: Specifically, Sancerre wines, made from Sauvignon Blanc grapes in the Loire Valley, are known for their vibrant acidity and minerality, making them an excellent match for Sainte Maure.
- Chenin Blanc: Chenin Blanc wines, particularly those from the Loire Valley, can provide a versatile pairing. Look for dry or off-dry styles that balance acidity and fruity flavors.
- Chardonnay: Opt for a lightly oaked or unoaked Chardonnay with crisp acidity to avoid overwhelming the delicate flavors of the cheese.
- Rosé: A dry and fruity rosé, such as a Provence or Loire Valley rosé, can offer a refreshing pairing option, especially during warmer months.
Where to Purchase Sainte-Maure Caprifeuille
I suggest you start with your local cheese shop if you have one near you. If they don't sell the Caprifeuille, ask the manager to start bringing it in. They may or may not, but it's worth the request.
You won't find it in your everyday supermarket, but some high-end markets like Whole Foods or Wegmans should carry it. If everything doesn't work, you can always order it online but be prepared to pay for overnight shipping.