Cheese Label from Maison Jean d’Alos of Bordeaux

Here is a new cheese label that recently turned up at Le Pichet.  It is a great example of the odd, esoteric sorts of designs you often find on French cheeses.  This one comes from Jean d’Alos, Fromager and Affineur of Bordeaux.  A “fromager” is of course a cheese seller or shop and the addition of the term “Affineur” indicates that this particular fromager ages the cheeses that it sells themselves ‘a la maison’, usually on the premise.  In general,  Fromager Affineur attached to the name of a cheese shop indicates a shop of the best quality.

I am not familiar with Jean d’Alos but  from their swell website, it seems that they age cheeses in Bordeaux and have shops in Bordeaux, Lons and Montpellier.  The cheeses they sell are made by artisan cheese makers throughout France.

It should be noted that the above is not actually a cheese label at all.  It is a  paper that is used to wrap all of the cheeses sold in Jean d’Alos shops.  It is typical in France for cheese shops to have specially printed wrapping papers with their name, contact information and their logo or some other design related to their products.  This is true of other specialty food shops as well, including butcher shops, bakeries and charcuterie shops.

We received this wrapper at Le Pichet snugged around a 2 year old Mimolette, which is a hard cheese from the the area around Lille in the north of France.  Mimolette is officially known as a “fromage pate presse non-cuites” or cheese with a pressed, non-cooked curd.  In other words, the curds were molded under pressure to remove some of the water and produce a dryer, firmer cheese, but they were not cooked or heated.  In some cheeses, the curds are heated to cause more of the water to come out during molding.

This particular Mimolette was really freakin’ good, by the way…like a well aged Parmesan, strongly flavored, with salt crystals in the ‘mie’ or meat of the cheese and a rind heavily pocked by cheese mites.  Cheese mites are desirable in certain sorts of cheese, including Mimolette.  The flesh of Mimolette is traditionally colored with annatto, giving it a striking orange color.

One of the things that I find so fascinating about cheese labels is that each one not only tells the story of the cheese, it also gives an insight into the personality of the cheese maker or distributor.  I really like the playful, pastoral nature of this design;  it makes me want to visit the Jean d’Alos shop next time I am in Bordeaux.


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