The Loire River rises in the Massif Central from where it flows into the Atlantic Ocean. At some 629 miles long, it is the longest river in France. It flows first to the north, and then to the west. Soft plains spread around the Loire's giant curve in a region justly called the Garden of France. Then countryside is sprinkled with Renaissance castles and there is an abundance of wines and cheeses.
It was in this region in the eighth century, that the Saracens were repelled at the city of Poitiers. The Saracens were originally Arabs, who for centuries had occupied much of Spain and had gradually moved north to France. While in France, they made excellent goat's milk cheeses. When they were expelled from France, they left behind not only goats, but also the recipes for making the cheese from their milk. To this day, villages on either side of the Loire produce goat cheeses of different sizes, each having delicately varied tastes.
One excellent cheese from this region is the Petit Mothais. It has a natural rind and is of fermier production. This delicate goat cheese is produced in the marshy Gatine area of Poitou. Affinage (or aging) usually takes from eight to fifteen days in cellars of 100% humidity, which is a very high for most goat's milk cheeses. The Petit Mothais pate is uncooked and unpressed, is slightly runny and has a pronounced acidity and creaminess. It is wrapped in a chestnut leaf for a beautiful presentation and added flavor.
As with all goat's milk cheeses, the Petit Mothais complements most crisp and flavorful white wines, as well as light -bodied red wines.