Friday, August 24, 2012

Ami Du Chambertin; the Cheese from Burgundy.

Behind the French Menu
Bryan G. Newman

An excellent cheese that is named in honor of that full-bodied red wine Gevrey-Chambertin. The cheese's name transalates into English as the Friend of Chambertin and comes, like the wine from the Bourgogne, Burgundy.

Gevrey-Chambertin, the wine that gave the cheese its name.
Photograph courtesy of
   L'Ami Du Chambertin cheese is a  fairly soft cow’s milk cheese with a medium to strong taste, it is ivory colored, with  45% fat and made with unpasteurized milk. The cheese is aged for nearly two months before sale and while aging is washed in Marc de Bourgogne, a 40% alcohol eau-de-vie. This eau-de-vie, a Marc, is made in a similar manner to the Italian Grappa, and may well be on your restaurant’s list of digestives.

L'Ami Du Chambertin.
Photograph courtesy of Fromagerie Gaugry
   In the time-lines used for French cheeses Ami Du Chambertin is a fairly new cheese, just sixty-years old. In the 1950’s Raymond Gaugry, a cheese merchant, realized the huge potential of a new cheese for the Bourgogne, Burgundy.  The area was famous for its wines but had few famous cheeses. Today his creation may still not have the cachet of an AOC cheese but it is very well-known and sells more than quite a number of France’s more famous AOC cheeses. 

     I learned about the Ami Du Chambertin cheese a short while after I had been introduced to the Gevrey-Chambertin wine. I enjoyed the Gevrey-Chambertin wine, and I would order it whenever the opportunity arose. Then at another  dinner a colleague  asked if I liked the cheese that had been named in its honor: Ami Du Chambertin. A few days later I bought the cheese, which is excellent, and since then Ami Du Chambertin is always on my list of cheeses to take home from France.
    In my posts I always keep away from naming names as changes, in the world of food, can easily mislead the reader. Unlike a newspaper restaurant critic's article or a magazine article blog posts may remain readable for years. However, Raymond Gaugry and his dream of creating a new cheese for Burgundy, L’Ami du Chambertin is different, 60 years have passed.    Ami Du Chambertin is now sold all over France, and the Gaugry family still own and run the dairy by the same name that produces this cheese.  The dairy is about 10 kms from the village of Gevrey-Chambertin in a village called Brochon.  In 2004 the family opened a new state of the art dairy, in the same village, and that now allows visitors to watch the whole production process.

All the cheeses produced by the Fromagerie Gaugry.                   
Photograph courtesy of Fromagerie Gaugr
    If you are in or near the city of Dijon, so famous for its mustards, or close to the village of Gevrey-Chambertin then make a note as the village of Brochon is just a 15 minute drive from Dijon and 10 minutes from the village of Gevrey-Chambertin. One and a half  to two hours  is enough to see the dairy in production and return home.  If you visit the dairy you may also taste their cheeses, and for a small contribution to the local economy, buy some if you wish. Apart from Ami Du Chambertin the dairy produces seven other Burgundy cheeses:   Le Palet De Bourgogne, L’ Epoisses AOC, Soumaintrain, Le Cendre De Vergy, Le Petit Creux. Le Plaisir Au Chablis, Le Petit Gaugry.

    The dairy it is open to visitors, without charge, every day of the week except Sunday. Still, be careful, while it is open daily from 09:00 to 18:30 as is often the case in France the visitors’ section closes for lunch from 12 :00- 14 :00!  To learn more about their cheeses look up their web site, which is also in English:
   Burgundy is more famous for its wines than its cheeses, but there are over thirty  other cheeses made in Burgundy and five  of those cheeses have been granted AOC/AOP  status: Le Chaource, AOP ; L’Époisses, AOP : Le Mâconnais, AOP; Le Charolais, AOP.

Bryan G. Newman

Behind the French Menu
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