The Fourme d’Ambert AOP specifications stipulate the totality of production regulations from the production region to cheese maturation, including conditions for the feeding of livestock.
Extensive stock farming practices to ensure milk quality
The specifications include constraints with regard to livestock. Including :
- Location of the holding: it must be within the AOP geographic area
- Animal feed : “Milk cows must be fed grass as their staple food”,
- “Pasturing is mandatory”, that is, the cows must be set out to pasture.
- Duration of pasturing: “The duration must be no less than 150 days per year”, so almost 5 months !
- “All fodder used for feeding milk cows must come from within the Appellation area”, simply because it is defined by the characteristics of its natural environment, so forms an integral part of the Appellation characteristics.
- The composition of the cereals fed to milk cows, and the cereals themselves, must be listed by the ODG. This list specifically excludes all GM products, palm oil, urea, flavouring, and colouring.
- In order to guarantee that the fodder is from the Fourme d’Ambert AOP region and therefore avoid the need for farmers to buy cereal elsewhere due to a lack of production, the specifications provide for a maximum amount of cereal per cow per year: “The use of supplements and additives is limited to 1,800kg… “.
Milk collection methods and manufacturing secrets are specified… in order to preserve traditions
- Milk origin : “Milk must come from a holding accredited by the Fourme d’Ambert AOP
- Milk freshness : “ milk must be used within at most 48 hours of collection”
- Location of dairies and aging facilities : cheese manufacture and aging must take place within an AOP geographic production area.
- Production conditions are also very precise : timing, temperature, manufacturing techniques (piercing, salting, etc.).
- Aging must be of at least 28 days.
- From milk to cheese, traceability (i.e. provenance, the herd, the processing plant, etc.) must be entirely guaranteed.
Consistency of taste
Cheese is a living product that derives from the delicate balance between milk and the cheese makers’ skill. Cheese manufacture is never the same from one day to the next. For this reason, the specifications also stipulate the La Fourme d’Ambert ‘s organoleptic qualities:
Type of milk : “Cheese recognised as being La Fourme d’Ambert AOP must be cheese made from cows’ milk.”
The shape : “cylindrical, 21 centimetres high, with a diameter of between 12.5 and 14 centimetres, and weighing between 1.9 to 2.5 kilos”
The crust : “The ‘La Fourme d’Ambert’ is a cheese that is covered in a fine, dry and flowery crust, from grey to light grey, which may show white, yellow or red mould, as well as a blue sheen.”
The texture : “The essence of the cheese is white to cream-coloured with cracks and an even distribution of blue to green veins. The ‘Fourme d’Ambert’ has a supple and smooth texture.”
The taste : “The cheese has a subtle and perfumed flavour, a creamy taste that is accentuated by a combination of flavours that stem from the effect of the Penicillium roqueforti strains, a fruity taste. A hint of salt and a slight bitterness are acceptable.