The Bleu des Causses shares an ancient history with the Roquefort, in a time where the cheese was made from mixed milk from a cow and a sheep, or pure milk from one or the other, based on the season and the cheesemaker.
The traditional cheese making of Gaul was celebrated by Pliny the Elder. For him, among the traditional cheese making for quality, the grazing had a major importance. He mentioned, in the 11th tome of his “Natural History”, the cheeses of Mont Lozère and Gévaudan. Julius Caesar himself was reported to have eaten blue cheese. However, it was not specified what kind of cheese it was.
Back from the war in Spain, Charlemagne would have tasted a blue cheese at a stop in Albi. The local bishop would have served him cheese. “The Emperor, in his travels, unexpectedly went down and without being expected at the Bishops. It was a Friday. The Prelate had fish point; and he dared moreover, because of the abstinence of the day, to serve meat to the Prince. What was presented to him in his home was grease and cheese. Charles ate cheese, but taking marbling stains as rot, it was carefully removed with the tip of his knife. The Bishop, who stood beside the table and, after the Prince, took the liberty to present him with what would be the best cheese. Charles therefore tasted the marbling; he found that his host was right and he charged him with sending two cases of bleu cheese to Aachen every year. The Bishop said that it was well within his powers to send some cheese; but he was not to send parsley because it is only by opening it, can one tell if a merchant has deceived them. Well, the Emperor said, before making them go, cut it down the middle to see if it is as I desire. You will not have to bring the two halves by placing them with a wooden peg, then by putting everything in a box.” - Notker the Stammerer
Many artisanal cheese cellars refine cow’s milk, sheep’s milk, or even a mixture of both. It is sold without a provincial name. In 1925, during the administrative recognition of the original name of Roquefort, the cheese must be refined to Roquefort-sur-Soulzon and cheeses from cow’s milk is banned. Because of this, producers of cheese from cow’s milk begin to structure their organizations. The collective mark “Valmont” was created to support the sales of the cheese “bleu de l’Aveyron”. The final name “Bleu des Causses” was decided on by two decrees in 1941 and 1946. The union constitution dated July 1948 and the delimitation of the geographical area in 1953. Official recognition of the AOC dated June 8, 1949. In 1992, the union building opened their doors to cow breeders; they added to dairies and refineries.
The geographical area of the production of the milk and the development of the cheese covers a valley region, limestone or schist plateaus, and, to a lesser extent, some mountains. It is bounded to the department of Lot in Aveyron (excluding the regions of Mur de Barrez and Sainte-Geneviève sur Argence) and west Lozère.
In the department of Aveyron, the bounds include all the common boroughs of Millau and of Villefranche-de-Rouergue, and all the common regions of Baraqueville-Sauveterre, Bozouls, Cassagnes-Bégonhès, Conques, Entraygues-sur-Truyère, Espalion, Estaing, Laguiole, Laissac, Marcillac-Vallon, Naucelle, Pont-de-Salars, Réquista, Rignac, Rodez-Nord, Rodez-Est, Saint-Amans-des-Cots, Saint-Chély-d'Aubrac, Saint-Geniez-d'Olt and La Salvetat-Peyrales in the Arrondissement de Rodez.
In the department of Lot, the bound concerns all the common regions of Cahors, Castel-Montratier, Catus, Labastide-Murat, Lalbenque, Lauzès, Limogne-en-Quercy, Luzech, Montcuq, Puy-L'Evêque, Saint-Géry, Cajarc and the communes of Boussac, Brengues, Calès, Cambes, Corn, Durbans, Espagnac-Sainte-Eulalie, Espédaillac, Flaujac-Gare, Gignac, Grezes, Lachapelle-Auzac, Lamothe-Cassel, Lamothe-Fénelon, Lanzac, Le Roc, Le Vigan, Livernon, Loupiac, Montamel, Nadaillac-de-Rouge, Payrac, Quissac, Reilhac, Reilhaguet, Saint-Chamarand, Saint-Cirq-Souillaguet, Saint-Projet, Soucirac, Souillac, Ussel and Uzech.
In the department of Lozère, the bound concerns all the common regions of Aumont-Aubrac, Canourgue, Chanac, Le Malzieu-Ville, Marvejols, Le Massegros, Saint-Chély-d'Apcher and the communes of Allenc, Badaroux, Balsièges, Brenoux, Chadenet, Chirac, Grèze, Florac, Ispagnac, Lanuéjols, Le Monastier-Pin-Moriès, Mende, Meyrueis, Montrodat, Palhers, Saint-Bauzile, Saint-Bonnet-de-Chirac, Saint-Étienne-du-Valdonnez, Saint-Germain-du-Teil, Saint-Laurent-de-Trèves, Saint-Pierre-de-Nogaret, Sainte-Enimie, Sainte-Hélène and Vebron.
In the department of Gard, only the town of Trèves and in the department of Hérault, only the town of Pégairolles-de-l'Escalette benefit from the classification of the boundaries.
In fact, only the Aveyron and Lozèze parties produce cheese.
The refining fourmes is much more restrictive. It concerns some regions of the district of Millau: Campagnac, Cornus, Millau-Ouest, Millau-Est, Peyreleau, Saint-Affrique, and at the towns of Trèves and of Pégairolles-de-l’Escalette.
The terroir includes, among others, land caussenardes who gave their name to this cheese. These are characterized by a limestone subsoil drainage, causing drought when rain are scarce. Rich soil is low, giving short and bushy vegetation. However, this naturally sparse vegetation is aromatic and contributes to the flavor of the milk.
The refining zone has vertical limestone cliffs carved by the erosion of the rivers Tarn, Doubie, and Jonte. Over the centuries, some rockslides have created caves ventilated by fleurines, cracks in the rock allowing the circulation of air. It is the biggest of these caves that ripening cellars were built. They have a very stable humidity and temperature, favorable to the development of blue mold.
It is not specified what kind of milk is needed or the feeding conditions of the animal. As long as the animal is free of brucellosis and tuberculosis.
Cheese making can be done in all of the defined area. Cow’s milk, specifically, is whole and full of rennet. The operation takes place with hot milk (30 to 33 °C) at the same time as the seeding of spores from the Penicillium roqueforti mushroom, the mold responsible for the blue forms. These spores are from selected strains in the refining area. Under the action of the rennet, the milk coagulates.The curd is then sliced and then brewed. The grains are then become rounded and let out the whey. Draining can then be done on perforated molds. It is promoted by inverting the cheese. At demolding, the cheese is salted with dry salt (not soaking in brine). Work at the dairy then completes and the cheeses are shipped to the maturing cellar. Upon arriving at the maturing cellar, the cheeses are then brushed or washed and wiped. They are then perforated: this operation promotes internal ventilation of the cheese and allows harmonious development of mold. The cheese is then stored on racks in cellars naturally temperature controlled by fleurine. Between production and refinement, preparation should take at least 70 days. Before selling, refrigeration is not part of the refinement.