Classic vs. Black Label: Different Shades of Cambozola

Those that frequent the cheese counter may wonder when they see the name Cambozola on two different-looking cheeses and ask: How can they both be Cambozola?

Both are semi-soft cheeses made from cow’s milk that have grazed on the grasses in the Bavarian valleys of the Allgäu region. The two cheeses differ most noticeably in appearance. Classic Cambozola has a white mold rind more similar in appearance to a Brie or Camembert. Cambozola Black Label is a smaller wheel in circumference but taller than the Classic and has a gray mold rind. In terms of taste, both are creamy, slightly nutty with hints of pungent blue. The Black Label  is aged longer than the Classic Cambozola and in cold cellars. This process and extra aging yields a richer cheese with a very creamy texture. The distinctive gray rind has a more pungent scent and adds a slightly more pungent “blue” flavor. Classic Cambozola is a good choice for those that typically shy away from blues. It’s mild flavor will spark the curiosity of novice blue-cheese tasters, while the Cambozola Black Label will entice those with more adventurous palettes.

Interestingly, the gray mold of Cambozola Black Label apparently was once a characteristic of original Camemberts (and for more on this cheese’s history, see Pierre Boisard’s Camembert: A National Myth). However, around the early part of the twentieth century, a shift in consumer preference  for white rinded, less “rustic” cheeses led to a a shift in the cheese’s ripening process. Lucky for us the strain of bacteria that caused the gray mold has been revived to produce the Black Label.
Aside from the cheese platter, I find that Classic Cambozola is excellent on slices of bread, sandwiches, burgers, vegetables, omelets, and generally melts beautifully over anything I can think to put cheese on. While the Cambozola Black Label could also certainly top them all, I find it’s extra creaminess makes it melt quickly and thinly when under the broiler. I prefer this richer cheese at room temperature. No need for high heat—this unique cheese melts in your mouth.