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The Roquefort-philes

Roquefort is perhaps the world’s most famous blue cheese.

From the town of Roquefort-sur-Soulzon in the department of Aveyron, it can be found on the shelf of every French supermarket and Cheesemonger.

But how to navigate the plethora of labels? Who is who, and what’s the difference between the producers and labels?

Wine Fogg took it upon ourselves, to source as many producers as possible for a comparative tasting : 15 cheeses in total! (it sounded like a great idea at the time)

A few Fun Facts:

  • 1925 – the year Roquefort became the world’s first cheese AOP.
  • It’s France’s 2nd most popular cheese after Comté.
  • Over 3 million cheeses are made each year, around 55% of this by just one company (the cooperative).
  • There are no fermier (“farmhouse”) producers. They are either artisanal or industriel (both requiring purchasing milk from farmers).
  • The blue veins come from the natural Pennecillium Roqueforti in the caves of Mont Combalou in Roquefort-sur-Soulzon in which they must be aged (yup, it’s a protectionist monopoly).
  • Sweetness of the milk vs the saltiness of the cheese is said to be part of its appeal.
  • Not everyone likes blue cheese – there’s strong evidence that our palates are wired differently, and that blue cheese is one of the tests.

The Producers

There are 7 producers under the official Roquefort AOP.
Each works with a number of sheep farmers to supply milk and have a up to 5 different Roquefort cheeses and a few non-Roquefort made from the same milk.

The below table is best viewed in landscape mode (ie on a computer screen, or with your phone held sideways)

Producer / Brand
Milk Producers
Tes / year
# Cheeses in range
1851/63 1,000 10,000 5
1890 52 1,200 1
1906 130
(23 organic)
2,250 5 (+4* )
Gabriel Coulet
1906 100 2,000 4 (+2*)
Maison Comes
(Le Vieux Berger)
1923 8 180 1
1927 12 230 1
Les Fromageries Occitanes
1976 170 2,200 1

* additional cheeses in the range not under the Roquefort AOP

Note that Roquefort producers generally use traditional (animal) rennet  and are not suitable for vegetarians.

Any Roquefort found under a different name will be produced by one of the larger producers above on behalf of supermarkets or delis.

See our reference page The Roquefort Files for details of each producer (history, website, visits/tours, cheese range) and and under which other brands you may find their cheeses.

A few of Roquefort’s mandatory requirements

  • Everything from production to packaging must happen in the Roquefort commune.
  • Raw Ewe’s milk only (from at least 20 days after lambing).
  • Only Penicillium Roqueforti from the local caves can be used.
  • A minimum of 3 months ageing in the local caves.

For the more curious reader, the official PDO website has further information on the production process, producers, recipes and much more.

The Tasting:

We sourced 15 different Roquefort from a variety of cheesemongers and supermarkets, and while visually impressive, it was exhausting on the palate.

A list of the cheeses tasted and summary tasting notes can be found on our Roquefort tasting notes page.
For brevity we’ll highlight the main lessons learned.

The Takeaway
  • The styles ranged from milky and not very bluey (in a firmer Gorgonzola style), to spicy and pungent for lovers of blue cheese only.
  • The spectrum of flavours goes from lactic/creamy/buttery to animal / spicy / tangy / peppery.
  • For those who don’t like strong blue cheese – the cheaper, lighter, industrially produced, younger styles will more likely appeal.
  • For those who like tangy, nutty cheeses, the smaller producers and aged versions will be worth seeking out.
  • If in doubt, ask your local cheesemonger. It’s their job to know and guide us.
  • Personally, we preferred the smaller, artisanal producers who make one cheese, and make it well.
  • Once you’ve figured this out, the age of the cheese makes a lot of difference.
  • The darker the colour of the blue veins, the older it is likely to be (green to blue to grey).
  • Unsurprisingly, the higher the price (we’re talking 10-20%), the more complexity, depth and length there is.

If you do decide to do a similar comparative tasting

  • Expect plenty of “looks” from cheesemongers when you ask for anything less than 200g (a hefty slab) of cheese.
  • Have some sweet wine to hand to try some classic wine / cheese pairing.
  • Expect a lot of leftovers and familiarise yourself with a few recipes (roquefort and walnut salad, blue cheese & broccoli soup, blue cheese & cream pasta).


A shout out to the following artisanal cheesemongers from whom we buy our cheese when in the area:

Fromagerie Cathare, Albi – map
Fromagerie des Halles, Castres – map
Fromagerie Saint-Pierre, Gaillac – map

And a special thanks to the army of ants that provided an hour of entertainment carrying away the crumbs and cleaning the cheese board while we digested.

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Tags: Blue Cheese, Cheese, French Cheese, Roquefort

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