It’s time to confess: I’ve never been to Montbéliard in the French department called Doubs, though it’s only just to the north of the Jura, a region that I know very well indeed. What singles the town out for me is that it gives its name not only to a breed of cow that grazes the mountain pastures of the Jura and beyond, producing some of France’s finest cheeses, but also to one of the delicious smoky sausages widely served in the Jura.
The Montbéliard breed of cow (sometimes in English seen with an ‘e’ on the end and also known as ‘The French Dairy Simmental’) is hardy and can cope with mountains pastures. Only the milk from this breed is allowed for the famous Comté cheese of the Jura that goes so well with Vin Jaune. If you’re not familiar with the cheese, it’s a Gruyère-style hard cheese and, as Fiona Beckett of Matching Food and Wine says, it can also go well with some, soft ripe reds such as Spanish Tempranillo-based wines. You do find this breed of cow in Savoie too, where, alongside the hardier breeds of Abondance and Tarine it’s one of the permitted breeds for Reblochon cheese and Beaufort. Funny, before I lived part of the year in the mountains of France, I could never have believed that I’d learn about breeds of cows and cheeses – I thought I’d just stick to grape varieties and appellations.
Now we come to the Saucisse de Montbéliard, a Jura speciality. Pure country pork, it’s usually smoked, and often cooked in the Jura with white wine and vine cuttings for extra flavours. You can slice it up to serve cold in salad with potatoes, or serve it with lentils, but typically in the rural Jura, it will be served simply with potatoes and a light red Jura Poulsard wine to drink with it.
If you are visiting the Jura, then as well as arming yourself with our two travel guides to the Jura wine region, do check out the website for the Routes du Comté and plan a visit to see the Montbéliard cows and check out how the cheese is made. You’ll find the saussice on many restaurant menus.
So, congratulations to wine lover Fred Swan of California who jumped in with the right answer after we’d been through answers ranging from Guernsey to Toulouse, with the closer gueses of Tarine, Charolais and Aubrac as well.
Next week, there will be no Twitter quiz as I’m taking a few days off from social networking and spending a few days skiing with family. But, the website keeps going on its own, so do visit it please and spread the word to anyone planning a private wine tour.