The village of Laruns (64 Pyrenées-Atlantiques, Nouvelle Aquitaine) in the Ossau Valley celebrates with a Pyrenees Cheese Festival (Foire au Fromage) 5 – 6 October 2019
The Ossau-Iraty is a traditional cheese made from sheep’s milk in the Basque Country and Béarn. It is recognized as AOC since 1980 and PDO (Protected Designation of Origin) since 1996.
This classification requires that:
the cheese is made in a defined geographical area where transhumance is practised (i.e. the sheep and shepherds are moved down from the high mountain pastures into the lower valleys in the Autumn); only specified local sheep breeds are used; and that the sheep are free-range for at least 240 days a year
Ossau Iraty is a hard sheeps milk (brebis) cheese, and locals advise that it is best to cut this cheese and allow it to “breathe” a little before eating, as the cheese is allowed to mature for 60-90 days before sale. Local white wines such as Jurançon and Pacherenc du Vic Bilh and Iroulégy go well with the cheese.
Laruns /Vallée d’Ossau lies about 40km south of Pau going up into the Pyrenées.
For more info on the Pyrenees Cheese Festival see tourisme64.com
There is a good choice of local accommodation throughout the year due to the winter ski-ing in the area, including the Hotel Logis L’Ayguelade, a comfortable logis with an excellent restaurant.
For more info on this Pyrenees Hotel see Logis L’Ayguelade
Grape varieties for Armagnac include a dozen different ones, mainly ugni blanc, baco blanc, folle blanche and colombard. Armagnac is not a wine but a beautiful amber-coloured eau de vie made from grape juice. When young, Armagnac is fiery, giving off a complex bouquet of floral (lime blossom, vine blossom, etc.) and fruity aromas (quince, grape, plum, etc.). Aged Armagnac is more rounded, with enchanting aromas of prune and candied orange and subtle underlying tones of vanilla.
The gently rolling hills and valleys of Gers, so reminiscent of Tuscany, set off by magnificent sweeping wine estates, which embrace the appellation’s three terroirs, or regions. These terroirs are Bas-Armagnac (between Eauze and Nogaro), Ténarèze (around Condom and Vic-Fezensac) and Haut-Armagnac (between Auch and Lectoure). Before being aged for several years in oak barrels, Armagnac is produced by distillation using a special type of still. Made entirely of pure copper and maintained at a constant heat, the Armagnac still design was laid down by royal warrant in 1818. Armagnac is an exception in the world of spirits because it has proudly held on to its traditional distillation methods. It’s an eau de vie that is ‘crafted’ rather than produced. see www.tourism-midi-pyrenees.co.uk