In the Mont Blanc region, the valley of Abondance has been renowned for generations for its cows, its church, its immense ski areas affiliated with Portes du Soleil, but most of all for its distinct cheese.
- AOC since 1990.
- A whole, raw milk, semi-cooked pressed cheese. 48% minimum fat content.
- Wheel with concave sides 40 cm in diameter and 8-cm thick. Weight: 7 to 12 kg.
- Oval casein labels for artisan cheeses and square labels for mass-produced cheeses.
- Production: 1,500 tonnes.
Savoie wines like Apremont and Roussette de Seyssel reveal the best aromas and the superb, fruity flavour a cheese aged between four and six months. It is used for cooking berthoud, a traditional dish from the Chablais region, which is made from white wine poured over thin slices of Abondance cheese and then baked in the oven.
Between two stirrings of the curd grains, which get as small as green peas, there is a single heating to 50°C. If it is too long or too quick, the cheese will crack or swell during the ageing process. Abondance takes on its recognisable concave shape after it is pressed in circular wooden moulds.
The mould can be adjusted to the desired diameter with a string. Ageing occurs for at least 90 days and only within the AOC-designated area. The cheeses, which are placed on spruce planks, are rubbed with salt every other day and their surfaces regularly wiped.
Previously produced under various different names (Toupin, Fontine, Bagnes cheese, or Conches cheese), Abondance cheese earned its reputation thanks to the actions of the monks in neighbouring abbeys. The abbey in Abondance cemented its future reputation by offering it as the official cheese during the papal election at the conclave of Avignon in 1381.
One breed of cows dominates within the herds: the Abondance, recognisable by its mahogany-brown coat. It is a hardy dairy cow for harsh regions as it is resistant to variations in climate.
The cheese’s region is spread out over the green mountains of Haute-Savoie: Aravis and the Mont Blanc region, but mainly the Abondance valley.