Quebecoise Delight — La Sauvagine

Canadian cheese has been getting some great reviews and Quebec has a long and storied cheese making history. One company has been getting some rave reviews and so i tracked down one of their more popular cheeses — their version of an Oka like cheese — La Sauvagine.
And it was well worth the hunt.
A little disclosure here. The way this cheese is marketed is a bit dodgy. It comes across as a cheese made by artisans, by hand using locally sourced milk and rolled on the thighs of Quebecoise maidens. It is no such thing. It is made by Saputo, a rather large company although it is made in small batches, which does keep the quality high.
That said, it is an awesome tasting cheese, no matter how it is made and how little it has to do with Quebecoise maidens.
La Maison Alexis de Portneuf, based in Saint Raymond de Portneuf, in Quebec produce a number of cheeses that have won prizes and awards all over North America and a couple of years ago the World’s Best Cheese at the annual cheese championships in the Canary Islands. La Sauvagine is French for wildfowl and is named so because the area is home to millions of migrating ducks and geese in the spring and autumn.
The cheese itself comes in a small wheel wrapped in paper. In the tradition of an old style Port Salut, its rind is an orange salt wash rind that is better removed. It also gives the cheese its distinctive odour, which, if I may be frank, isn’t pleasant. It’s a pungent, woody almost gamey smell that is strong and doesn’t  diminish with a couple of days in the fridge.
That bouquet is no indication of the taste however.
La Sauvagine is a cow’s milk cheese that ripens from the inside out. That means a wonderfully silky, soft centre. The texture is like that of a slightly runnier brie. (“Oh, I like it runny!”)
The taste is definitely one of cream, with a hint of something more earthy – mushroom perhaps. It is also a fairly salty cheese.
It definitely has a rustic taste, much more distinct, complex and flavourful than a Port Salut. There is a complexity of taste that is often lacking in other similar cheese, so if you track this down give it a go.
On another note, the company does spend some effort on packaging and it is duly noted. The cheese comes in a very nice little box with a light wrapping of paper as opposed to plastic wrap. That can only help too.
It is a great cheese just to carve off a chunk and eat with a glass of wine. With the salt and earthy flavours it can stand up to an earthy red wine like an Argentine Malbec or even a French Cahors. It also pairs well with spicy whites that cut that saltiness like a Riesling or gewürztraminer.

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