The Loire Valley offers goat's cheese lovers a paradise. It is a wonderful location for a holiday meandering beside the Loire River, visiting famous historic chateaux, cheese producers and caves for wine tasting and even staying in a boutique castle hotel if you chose. This area is justly called the Garden of France, and is sprinkled with majestic Renaissance castles open to the public and an abundance of fine wines and cheeses. Chateau du Guerinet near Blois is a perfect base for a cheese lover's Loire Valley holiday.
The Loire Valley is the starting point in the origins of goat's-milk cheese in France. In the eighth Century, the Saracens of Arab descent were repelled at Poitiers. When they were expelled from France they abandoned their goats and left the recipes for making incredible cheese from goats milk.
The lovely villages on either side of the Loire River produce goat's cheeses of different sizes and shapes. There are six AOC (Appellation d'Origine Controlee) cheeses: Sainte-Maure de Touraine, Selles-sur-Cher, Valencay, Pouligny-Saint-Pierre, Chabichou du Poitou and Crottin de Chavignol. There are currently 42 French cheeses with AOC status. An AOC label indicates quality and guarantees that a product has been produced within a specified area of France following established methods of production.
Selles-sur-Cher also has a rind of natural mould covered with salted and powdered charcoal. The pate is hard at first, then moist, heavy and clay-like as it blends and melts in the mouth. The taste is slightly sour and salty with a touch of sweetness. A glass of Sancerre or Pouilly Fume accompanies this cheese wonderfully.
Chabichou du Poitou has a thin rind of yellow, white or blue mould and a delicate slightly sweet flavour. Pouilly Fume and Sancerre wines go nicely with this cheese.
Sainte-Maure de Touraine is a blue-grey mould covered long truncated log of goat's cheese. The cheese is mature, balanced, round with salt, sourness and an aroma of walnut. This cheese is produced all year long and is nicely complimented by a glass of Chinon or Vouvray.
Pouligny-Saint-Pierre nicknamed the Eiffel Tower or Pyramid because of its shape. The rind is of natural mould. The pate is a soft moist white and crumbly. The taste is at first sour and salty followed by sweetness. This cheese goes beautifully with a glass of Reuilly or Sancerre.
Crottin de Chavignol known as Chavignol is knobbly and hard black on the surface, and the taste is a balance of sourness, sweetness and a little salt to be enjoyed with a glass of Sancerre de Chavignol.
Valencay cheese looks like a small black pyramid. It is purported that the shape of the cheese was originally a perfect pyramid. But when Napoleon returned from a disastrous campaign in Egypt he stopped at Valencay Castle, the cheese reminded him of the Egyptian pyramids and in a furry he chopped off the top of the cheese with his sword. The Valencay goat's cheese has a rind of natural mould, covered with salted powdered charcoal and goes nicely with a glass of Quincy, Reuilly or Sancerre.
What better way to enjoy these cheeses than driving through the Loire Valley visiting historic chateaux, maybe a hot-air balloon ride in the morning, gourmet lunch in village bistros, meeting cheese and wine producers sampling their products and returning at night to a friendly inviting boutique chateau hotel. Don't just visit a castle in France - stay in one. You will be amazed. Guests get to truly experience the grandeur of living in a french chateau. Make your next holiday a gourmet chateau holiday in the beautiful Loire Valley. If you love goat's cheese you will not regret it.
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Corina Clemence runs a luxury castle in the Loire Valley, for up to 15 people ideal for visiting vineyards, chateaux and perfect for a relaxing vacation with friends and family. Rent castle France. www.loirechateau.com Hire a castle in France.
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