Visiting the Gaugry Formagerie
The Burgundian cheese platter features the famous names of Epoisses, Cîteaux, Abbaye de la Pierre qui Vire, and Bouton de Culotte. With plentiful rich cow and goat’s milk available, the creamy cheeses are an essential feature in the cuisine of the region. The cheeses of the region date back to medieval times, having been made by the monks. Chaource, Epoisses and the Abbaye de la Pierre-qui-Vire are the most famous.
In the village of Brochon we find the Gaugry Fromagerie. The Gaugry family have been in the cheese business since the 1920’s when Raymond Gaugry began working in a number of dairies, this enabled him to acquire a broad and diverse knowledge of the craft. In 1946 Raymond and his wife Odette moved to Brochon, where they took over the “Laiterie de la Côte”.
In 1950, Raymond created a washed rind soft cheese based on know-how inspired by the farmers who produced the famous Epoisses and Langres cheeses. The Chambertin wine makers were so impressed with this cheese, which were the perfect partner to their wines, that it became known as “Ami du Chambertin” (Chambertin’s friend).
In 1970, the Fromagerie Gaugry began producing Epoisses cheese. This cheese, which originated in the Auxois region in the heart of Burgundy, was created in the 16th century by a religious community based in the village of Epoisses (Cistercian monks). The Epoisses cheese making know-how was passed on by the monks to the women of the Auxois region and handed down orally generation after generation from mother to daughter and now forms part of the French Burgundian heritage.
Today the Fromagerie still specialises in the production of washed rind soft cheeses, run by the third generation of the family, Gaugry Fromagerie is the last dairy still producing authentic Epoisses with raw milk. Forward thinking they opened the modern production site to visitors, both for educational purposes and transparency allowing them to present the entire production process without compromising hygiene by viewing the process through a glass gallery.
An important stage of production is the “washing” of the cheeses, the hand washing of the cheeses is their speciality and it was fascinating to watch the workers handling the cheeses. The cheeses are all washed by hand in brine (a mixture of salt and water). Depending on the type of cheese, the brine is enriched, with Marc de Bourgogne for Epoisses, or with Chablis wine for Plaisir au Chablis. This operation is repeated between five and ten times. As the cheese goes through its washes, its natural colour is gradually revealed. This colour, which can vary from ivory with orange hints to brick-red, develops due to the action of the starter culture. The use of colourants is forbidden, so the appearance of the colouration is entirely natural.
When this process is completed, the “maturing” of the cheese begins. It takes between 3 and 6 weeks, with a legal minimum of 29 days for the Epoisses cheese. This maturing takes place in special rooms where the temperature and humidity are strictly controlled (recreating the natural atmosphere of the original cellars: cool, damp and airy).
Gaugry produce eight soft, washed-rind cheeses: Epoisses AOC, Ami du Chambertin, Soumaintrain, Palet de Bourgogne, Le Petit Gourmand, Plaisir au Chablis, Le Petit Creux and Cendré de Vergy.
The cheese has held the Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée (AOC) designation since 1991, which means it is protected by a series of regulations to control its production process. This means the cows which produce the milk for the cheese must be specific breeds Simmental, Brune des Alpes and Montbéliarde and must graze in certain areas of Côte d’Or to give the cheese qualities of the terroir.
Outside of the main production rooms, there is a mock-up with mannequins to show how cheese was traditionally made on the farm.
You can visit Gaugry daily except on Sundays. They offer unguided visits free of charge to anyone wishing to discover the Fromagerie Gaugry and its production site. These visits are available during the normal opening hours of the shop. If you wish, you can enjoy a tasting of a range of cheeses after your visit. All you need to do is book a tasting at the shop on arrival.
Guided tours and larger groups need to pre-book and guided tours are followed by a tasting of five Gaugry cheese varieties, from the mildest to the strongest in flavour. This tasting is accompanied by a glass of Burgundy wine and bread.
We had a guided tour so got to experience the fantastic cheese and wine in the lovely tasting room just next to the shop.
A list and description of the cheese and the wine we tasted post tour.
They suggest that you come in the morning, while production is underway so you can get the full experience. I can highly recommend cheese and wine at 11am as it was a great start to the day!
You can also buy cheeses in the on site shop, you will find the complete range of Gaugry brand cheeses as well as a selection of top quality regional products.
Our guide for all the places we visited and experienced in the Burgundy region was Fabien Chenu at Wine Me Up, Fabien is a specialist in wine tourism in the Burgundy area. They offer a variety of tours and experiences in the Burgundy region and I can highly recommend them as it was one of the most memorable experiences I have enjoyed in all my adventures throughout France.
Wine Me Up also offer various wine tours throughout France