1ST INDEPENDENT ROQUEFORT PRODUCER
Gabriel Coulet is a family cheese dairy since 1872. Thanks to this passion and ancestral know-how, the cousins Jean-Pierre and Emmanuel now proudly represent the 5th generation of cheese makers and are committed to perpetuating their cheese heritage, nowadays a symbol of the French gastronomy.
The history of the company dates back to the 19th century when Guillaume Coulet, a resident of the Roquefort-sur-Soulzon village and a waggoner by profession, undertook to dig a wine cellar under his house. He discovered “fleurines”, namely cracks in the natural ventilation of the Combalou massif, making this place a privileged site to create a Roquefort ripening cellar.
The year 1872 marked the beginning of Coulet’s adventure, Guillaume officially became producer and cheese manufacturer. His son Gabriel succeeded him in 1906 and gave his name to what will become today’s famous Gabriel Coulet Roquefort.
A shepherd, in a hurry to whisper sweet nothings in a young lady’s ear, would have forgotten a sheep’s milk cheese on a slice of rye bread in Combalou’s scree. A few weeks later, he found his slice of bread which had turned bluish. Indeed, the Penicilium Roqueforti present in the bread had done its work. The young man tasted it and appreciated it against all odds! Hence Roquefort was born.
Figure of French gastronomy, it differs from other Roqueforts by many aspects:
Roquefort is a blue sheep’s milk cheese from the Aveyron department. Sacred in 1925, it is the oldest AOP/ PDO cheese in France.
The first Roquefort’s ingredient is none other than the raw milk of the Lacaune sheep breed. This milk, heated to a temperature between 28 °C / 82.4°F and 32°C / 90°F for renneting, is then seeded with Penicillium roqueforti mold. After being cut up and brewed in a tank, the curd is manually put into molds and then regularly turned over.
Salted on all sides, the Roquefort cheese can finally be matured in the natural cellars of the Roquefort-Sur-Soulzon village. The cracks in the Combalou massif, called fleurines, will host the wheels for a period of about three weeks. The average temperature is 11°C / 52°F and the natural ventilation constitute perfect conditions for the maturation.
The cheese is then stored at controlled temperature and will only obtain the Roquefort Protected Designation of Origin (AOP) after a minimum period of 90 days (120 days at Gabriel Coulet’s) guaranteeing the authenticity of its manufacture and its recognition.
About 1 million years ago, the Combalou plateau overlooking the town of Roquefort-Sur-Soulzon experienced a landslide which was at the origin of the creation of a network of natural cracks called “fleurines”. These humid cavities at a constant temperature made the Combalou massif a unique and favorable place and to mature Roquefort. The word fleurine comes from Occitan “flarina” meaning “breath”.
Roquefort is the oldest French cheese known to date. It has been proven that a civilization dating back to 3,500 years BC used the natural cellars of Combalou to make cheese. These people are considered as the Roquefort’s forerunner.
In 1411, Charles VI conceded to the city of Roquefort-Sur-Soulzon the exclusivity of the Roquefort ripening. Since that day, all the cheeses with the “Roquefort” appellation have to be partially ripened in the homonymous city.
During the Age of Enlightenment, Roquefort was given the title of “King of cheeses[PH1] “. It was Charlemagne’s favorite cheese, the monarch ordered it each year for Christmas in Aachen.
The milk collection occurs from December to July, period of production of the Gabriel Coulet Roquefort.