Selles sur Cher, is still artisanally and handmade in the village of Selles-sur-Cher (in the Loire valley near Orleans). The name is literally, Saddles on Cher – Cher being a river beside the town. It was one of the first cheeses to receive AOC status. According to the AOC regulations, it must be made in only certain regions of Cher, Indre and Loir-et-Cher. Not all the Selles sur Cher are fermier, some are made by cooperatives and others are small industry cheeses. The 100% goat’s milk cheese I enjoyed was made from pasteurized milk and had an ash coating. Some Selles sur Cher will be made from lait cru (not currently found in the US) and others will not have the ash coating. The Selles sur Cher I tasted was from Fromagerie Jacquin, and definitely was an older cheese, as the rind was firm. The cheese is available year round but is best in the spring and fall.
Physical Description of Selles sur Cher: The cheese is a small, beveled-sided disc with a thin coating of black wood ash over the bloomy rind, giving it a blue gray color. Blue and gray molds will grow under the ash giving the color more depth. The paste of Selles sur Cher is snowy white. The flavors mimic the terroir showing grass and limestone. As it ages, the paste will become firmer and the flavors stronger, imparting a nuttiness. After about four weeks the rind becomes firm and dry.
Joanne's Tasting notes:
The rind is firm and smells like ash and animal, with a hint of cellar and earth. The cheese is soft but not runny. The pate at center has a whiteness which turns to light white gold under the rind. The cut surface is a tiny bit sticky and leaves a thin film on the fingers. The cheese smells strongly of mushrooms. There is an intense acidity and great complexity in this cheese. The pate has a density which holds through to the finish. It doesn't easily melt away. Saltiness in the middle. The last notes are of fresh butter and pepper and some of that salt. Nearer the rind I taste malted milk and warm butter and a finish of mushrooms in butter (not caramelized) and a hint of milk chocolate.
The cheese texture is heavier nearer the rind and takes longer to dissolve. A fresh acidity lingers, which makes this cheese really attractive and delicious. The rind imparts a light blue mold flavor which in small amounts adds a whole extra layer of flavor to the cheese and seems to balance the salt with its slight bitterness.
Wine Pairing with Selles sur Cher:
Try with Loire Whites, Sauvignon Blanc, Rosé and lighter-style Cabernet Franc.