From time to time we get customers who bemoan the fact that we don’t regularly carry Comte, which is France’s most popular cheese in France. Gruyere is from just over the border in Switzerland and at one time they were considered the same cheese as they are extremely similar and some would argue identical except for the name. We carry Gruyere year round instead of Comte. The reasons are many.
For one, it is easier to find a great Gruyere at a reasonable price than Comte and even cheese geeks would be hard pressed to tell them apart in a blind taste test. Additionally, the best of these cheeses come in full 80 pound wheels. As a retailer, buying them pre-cut is a sin. It is also simply easier to sell Gruyere in the US as more people come in looking for it.
After these monstrous 80 pound wheels are cut into you only have a couple weeks until their most complex aromas dissipate. If you buy it pre-cut and they do so before it even leaves the factory, obviously the window has passed. This is unfortunately how most Gruyere and Comte is sold in America.
This quick dissipation of flavor combined with how long it can take even the busiest cheese retailers to sell a whole 80/lb wheel forces most cheese retailers to choose either Gruyere or Comte. These cheeses are so similar and carrying both is basically like splitting your sales in half.
Well I could not resist too long. Finally, Caputo’s now has not one but two full wheels of Comte. The first is a young 6 month from Rivoire Jacquemin and will retail for $16.99/lb. The second is produced by the elite Saint Antoine and is aged for 30 months by the legendary affineur Jean d’ Alos. It retails for $29.99/lb. Both bear the green label which means they are both in the top 2% of Comte production. As always Caputo’s still has a wonderful full wheel Gruyere for $15.99/lb.
Come taste all three at Caputo’s. As usual, samples are always free. See which one you think reigns supreme, Gruyere or Comte. Of course to make this a fair comparison I would have to also bring in a fourth 80 lb wheel of Rolf Beeler Gruyere. Hmm.