The Bleu de Gex cheese: Introduction
The name of the Bleu de Gex cheese is a reference to the region where it is produced and the type of cheese it is. The Bleu de Gex is a French cheese which comes from the plateau of Haut-Jura astride the departments of Ain (01) and Jura (39). This cheese is also called bleu de Septmoncel or bleu de Haut-Jura. The Bleu de Gex Haut-Jura cheese is made from raw cow's milk of the Montbéliarde breed or the French Simmentale breed. The cows are fed on grass and hay only. Fermented feeds are prohibited for the dairy cows. The system of exploitation of milk is extensive. The word "Gex" signifies that the cheese has been moulded in a hollow during the fabrication. Its rind is fine, dry, yellowish, lightly floury with small redish marks. The cheese is white to ivory, and marbled a pale green-blue colour, which is evenly distributed. It is unctuous and slightly crumbly. It has an odour which not very pronounced, and has a light, characteristic taste of hazelnuts. It is shaped into a thick disc with a convex heel and weighing 5 to 6 kg. It is matured in a cool, humid cheese cellar for 2 months.
History of the Bleu de Gex cheese
The history of the Bleu de Gex cheese goes back to the 13th Century, at the abbey of Sainte-Claude, who produced drugget from the hair of goats. The first cheeses were "chevrets." Later, the monks fabricated a "grey cheese" at Moussières and Bouchoux from cow's milk. After the cession of the Dauphine of France by Hubert II, in 1343, it was the settlers from the Dauphiné region of France who had been exiled, and were welcomed at the Abbey of Saint-Claude by the abbot Jean de Roussillon, himself Dauphinois, who introduced the cheese into the Haut Jura. It was discovered that around the year 1530, the Bleu de Gex cheese was the favourite cheese of Charles Quint, the ruler of Burgundy at the time.
The Bleu de Gex cheese is protected by an Appellation d'Origine by the decree of 20th September 1977, which was later modified by the decree of 4th August 1980.