There is an ongoing and spirited debate about affinage in the cheese community. The New York Times weighed in a couple of years ago and other articles and discussions followed. I even got asked by the local foodies. I said, “Meh”.
However when it comes to the cheeses aged by Rodolphe Le Meunier, I can see the beauty of having a talented cheese ager. The ripened and ashed goat cheeses we buy under his name are the best French ones we have had in years. His Jeune Autize, Puits d’astiers, and Tome des Pyrenees are better than versions I have had by others, including the original producers in one case. And his 30th Month aged Comte that we tried at the Fancy Food Show. OMG. It may be too expensive for us to ever sell, but I will forever cherish that cheese memory.
While I think that a lot of folks talk about their “affinage” as a pure marketing ploy, Meunier is the real deal. He’s an M.O.F. (Master Artisan), 2007 World Cheesemonger Champion, and from five generations of cheesemakers. While I have mocked or “meh”ed “affinage” in the past, I want to make clear that this is the, the kind of cheesemaking tradition that is worth paying for most of the time.
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