Morbier is a raw cow-milk, semi-firm, washed-rind cheese with a distinctive vein of ash across the middle of the paste.
Morbier cheese is named after a small commune in the Massif du Jura in Franche-Comté in eastern France. Today both Jura and Doubs versions of the Morbier benefit from an AOC (Appellation d'Origine Contrôlée).
Morbier cheese dates back to the 19th century when it was originally made for personal consumption by cheesemakers of the French cheese Comté. The cheesemakers would use some of their leftover fresh curd after making their massive 100 lbs. wheels of Comté. They would sprinkle soot over the leftover curd as it rested overnight at the bottom of a barrel to keep insects away and to prevent a rind from forming until the next morning when more leftover pieces of cheese were put on top to complete what is Morbier cheese. A cheese that can be consumed in 45 days but an affinage of two months is more usual. Today the dark vein in Le Morbier made of vegetable ash is only decorative yet respectful to its origin.
The milk used in the production of an AOC Morbier cheese must come exclusively from French Simmental and Montbeliard breeds of cow. Production may be artisanal, fermier, coopérative or industriel.
Morbier is made in the shape of a large disc with bulging sides. The wheel measures approx. 40 cm (16") in diameter and 8 cm (3") in height, weighing about 9 kg (20 lbs.). The ivory-yellow uncooked, pressed, semi-soft paste with small holes is pliant. Although the golden brown washed rind has a pungent aroma, the cheese is relatively mild with hints of fruit and grass. Morbier melts beautifully, try it in your next raclette.
Morbier pairs nicely with Pinot Noir, Gewurztraminer or a white Jura wine.
Photo source: http://www.lesvachesdutour.com