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The Art of Affinage

Affinage: n. [afeenajh]

The period of maturation or refinement of a cheese during which it is kept in an ideal environment and receives care. Traditionally, this care comes by way of observation and treatment by hand. The ideal environment is natural surfacing in a cave with a particular level of humidity and at a particular temperature. These conditions may change according to the type of cheese. The care and the environment influence the smell, taste, appearance and texture of a cheese.

The art of affinage is the tradition of ageing cheeses and coddling them along to perfection, washing them, turning them, and brushing them as they mature to ensure they reach their full potential.

As with a fine Bordeaux or a succulent Port, with age comes beauty for fine cheeses.

At the Smelly Cheese Shop, and with the expert guidance of some of the most renowned affineurs of this world and our sister branch Cheese Culture, we created some of the finest environment to nurture and develop the best in each cheese until it reaches full maturity, or, "at peak" ripeness.

So that in turns, you are able to taste pitch-perfect textures and flavours in each cheese.

From Good to Great - The Role of an Affineur

The affineur is involved in every level of the cheese production of his suppliers.  He sometimes contracts his own veterinary to watch over stock, supervises and checks the feeding regime of the cows, oversees the milking routine, ensuring that the milk comes from the selected herd and is only from particular milking sessions and assists in the management of hygiene.  Most importantly of all, for the producers, he pays for the cheese as soon as it is made.  Many of his producers are small suppliers who would otherwise have to hold on to their product while it is maturing and then find a market for it.  By contracting to sell their product to him, the growers know they have a reliable and secure income.

The affineur is able to select the best possible of the available cheese products which he then stores in his caves, encouraging optimal ripening and maturing using temperature, turning, brushing, scrubbing and washing, thus developing the texture, aroma, rind and taste – “letting each cheese speak”.  In Europe, this usually takes place in real caves or sometimes, like in the case of Herve Mons, in old railway tunnel.

The art of affinage is gaining momentum in Australia as consumers become increasingly more interested in their food, where it has come from and how it was made.  

Here in Adelaide, we can now enjoy great cheeses created by some of the best ‘affineurs’ in the world. With our room operating at full capacity all year long, we can deliver products at peak condition with the affineurs’ final tick of approval.

While we have some of the nations best cheese makers right here in South Australia, we can choose to enjoy some of the very best the rest of the world has to offer too.