Ossau-Iraty – Sheep’s Milk Cheese from France

Ossau-Iraty – France

I discovered Ossau-Iraty at C’est Cheese Please in Cambridge (Ontario, Canada). Ossau-Iraty is imported from France.

Ossau Iraty Cheese Sheep's Milk Cheese from France

Ossau Iraty Cheese Sheep’s Milk Cheese from France

This is a Sheep’s milk cheese that has held the French AOC designation (appellation d’origine controlee) since 1980. It is one of only three sheep’s milk cheese with the AOC status in France.

I found an informative French website at www.ossau-iraty.fr that describes the production of Ossau-Iraty. There are multiple producers of Ossau-Iraty. The cheese that I bought and tried from C’est Cheese Please was produced by Onetik, located in Macaye, France.

Ossau-Irity is produced in the Pyrénées-Atlantique department of the Aquitaine region of Southwest France.

Pyrénées-Atlantiques, France
Pyrenees-Atlantiques, France

It takes 5-6 liters of milk to make one kilo of Ossau-Iraty. Rennet is added to the sheep’s milk to form curds. The curd is cut and separated from the whey by heating. The curds are then pressed, drained and placed in a mold creating it’s final form. The cheese is salted and aged in Pyrenees mountain caves for over ninety days.

What does Ossau Iraty taste like? I found this cheese to be sweet, buttery and nutty with hints of toasted hazelnut.  It has a wonderful rich and smooth finish. As my cheese palette develops, I am appreciating sheep’s milk cheese more and more.

This cheese melts well. It can lift a grilled cheese sandwich or a cheese burger to the next level.  The French often accompany Ossau Iraty with black cherry jam. For a wine pairing, the C’est Cheese Please website recommends Sauvignon Blanc, Madrians, Pinot Noir, Chianti or Merlot wines.

Ossau-Irity is a very good Sheep’s milk cheese. For me, this is a benchmark cheese to measure other sheep’s milk cheese against. I recommend it.

13 comments on “Ossau-Iraty – Sheep’s Milk Cheese from France

  1. musingmar says:

    It was interesting to read about this cheese. I’m not very cheese savvy, so I always learn something from your posts!

    • Ontdrew says:

      Thank you. That’s what I like to hear! Comments like yours keep me motivated to keep learning and sharing. If you are curious about something about cheese let me know and I’ll explore it.

  2. Love all your cheese posts….so informative

  3. Rick Peori says:

    Good day friend, I’ve been following your posts for a few months and see your a bit of a “cheese traveller” I own a small cheese business at the Western Fair Artisans Market in London Ontario. I welcome you to come visit. I have a “world exclusive” cheese for you to try. I support many local and small artisan cheede makers, including Gunns Hill of Woodstock. We’ve teamed up to create a one of a kind cheese unavailable ANYWHERE ELSE. Find me on FB @ All Bout Cheese for more info….or email me if your interested!

  4. Wendi says:

    Hi Drew – excellent article! Just wanted to add that Ossau Iraty was the Grand Prix winner of the 2011 World Champion Cheese contest – and deservingly so! Looking forward to seeing you again! Chee(rs)se! Wendi, C’est Cheese Please!

    • Ontdrew says:

      After trying it, I’m not surprised that this cheese ended up in the winner’s circle. I really enjoyed it. Your recommendations are always bang on. I’ll be back for another suggestion.

  5. This is food porn. I was literally just talking about cheese, with a friend…. YUM!

  6. Rick Peori says:

    Good day Cheese Man!

    I’ve been following your blog for several months and am always excited to see a new one appear in my inbox. I’m the owner of All Bout Cheese, located at the Western Fair Artisan Market in London Ontario. I specialize in LOCAL, and ARTISANAL cheeses as well As a vast number of usual favorites…. Many of our lines feature some very appealing qualities; farmstead, raw milk, goats milk, sheeps milk, etc… I’m writing you today to invite you to come visit us, and explore what great cheeses we have here in southern Ontario including: Cest Bon, Mountainoak, Blyth farms, Crossroads, Oak Grove, and our favorite-Gunns Hill..(whom i might add by saying i’m proudly GH’s FIRST distributor!) Would love to hear back from you, find us on Facebook, or email me!

    Merry Christmas, Rick Peori All Bout Cheese

    Sent from my iPad

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