In my last post, I mentioned that Europeans put great store in geographic origin. In fact, the French term "terroir" is often used to refer to the features of (usually) a wine that are geographically determined. It's interesting that hardly any time elapsed from my making that post when I found myself looking at a book entitled "American Terroir," which uses that concept in characterizing some of our domestic foods: not just wine, says thw author, but vegetables, cheese, and such are terroir-dependent. And each of his chapters describes a different food, and points out somewhere on the North American Continent (yes, despite the title, his focus is the whole continent, not just the U. S. A.) where a great version is produced.
And one of those chapters talks about cheese. And his example is from Northeastern Vermont, Jasper Hill Farm, a cheesemaker and affineur that's been mentioned before in this blog. Now although he mentions the great Stilton-like cheese that they produce, Bayley Hazen Blue, most of the chapter describes a cheese of theirs that I haven't tasted, Winnimere. Now from the way it's been described, this is a Taleggio-like cheese, which would make it resemble Meadow Creek Farms' Grayson and Cowgirl Creamery's Red Hawk, and so we have three American products, from Vermont, Virginia, and California, all closely resembling an Italian cheese (Taleggio) and, of course, thus also resembling a French type, Pont l'Evêque. Given that these places cover quite a lot of territory, I think that makes a strong case that it is not terroir that makes a great cheese, but the skill of the cheesemaker. (And I'd love to try Winnimere, because Jasper Hill seems to have some great cheesemaking skills!)