Comté is a hard, fruity mountain cheese not dissimilar in character to Gruyère; in fact, it sometimes goes under the name of Comté Gruyère in its homeland. Made with cows’ milk in the Franche-Comté region of eastern France, it has a pale yellow interior, silky texture and nutty, sweet flavour, and is one of the country’s most popular cheeses.
Comté is aged for between four and 24 months, its flavour becoming more complex as the cheese matures. It is protected by an EU PDO mark, which means that only cheese made in a strictly delineated area can be sold under this name. Only the very best cheeses are allowed to be sold as Comté Extra, and this distinction is marked with a green band. Lower grade Comté, which has a brown band, is simply labelled as Comté, and is better for use in cooking. Comté is available year-round.