Give me Riopelle or Laliberté or give me death!

Riopelle de l'Isle: A world-class triple-cream made in Canada.
Riopelle de l’Isle: A world-class triple-cream—made in Canada.

I enjoy eating cheese from around the world but my passion is for fromages fins, artisan cheese made in Canada. When I hear someone praising an imported cheese to high heaven, my immediate reaction is: What do Canadian cheesemakers produce that is just as tasty, if not superior?

Chateau de Bourgogne, a classic triplecrème made in France, was recently selected by Kelsie Parsons, a guest blogger at Cheese & Toast, as the one cheese he wanted to savour if the world were to end.

Call me chauvinistic, but I’d rather go with Riopelle de l’Isle, the first triple-cream artisanal cheese produced in Canada. It was launched in 2001 by Société Coopérative Agricole de l’Île-aux-Grues, located on an island in the St. Lawrence River northeast of Québec City, and quickly became a huge success.

A wedge of Riopelle reveals a creamy and incredibly smooth centre beneath a thin, bloomy rind. Leaving an exquisite hint of butter, it is absolutely enchanting.

Named for Jean-Pierre Riopelle, a world-renowned Canadian artist.
Named for Jean-Paul Riopelle, a world-renowned Canadian artist.

Jean-Paul Riopelle, the world-renowned painter who spent the last years of his life on l’Île-aux-Grues, gave his name and the image of one of his best-known paintings to the cheese. In return, part of the profits financially help students of the island who wish to attend high school or university.

Laliberté: a triple-cream created by award-winning chessemaker Jean Morin.
Laliberté: a triple-cream created by award-winning chessemaker Jean Morin.

If there were no Riopelle to be had, I’d select a another Québec beauty, this one created by Jean Morin at Fromagerie du Presbytère in Sainte-Élizabeth de Warwick, Québec:

Laliberté, a triple-cream cheese made with whole organic cow’s milk from the family dairy farm across the road from the creamery. It’s such a rich dairy delight!

Given the critical and commercial success of Riopelle over the last decade, Canadian producers of cheese on an industrial scale now also offer triple-creams:

The factory cheeses are OK, if you can get past the modified milk ingredients used in their manufacture, but the artisanal producers who use pure milk are the ones who deserve and need the support of Canadian cheese lovers.

Especially with recent rumblings from Ottawa that Canada’s producers of artisan cheeses may face greater challenges in the future. A report in the Ottawa Citizen indicates the Canadian government and European Union are close to a deal that would see a substantial increase in exports of European dairy products—mainly cheese—to Canada in exchange for greater access to European customers for Canadian beef, pork and canola.

—Georgs Kolesnikovs

Georgs Kolesnikovs is Cheese-Head-in-Chief at and founder of The Great Canadian Cheese Festival.

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  1. Merci Georgs. Quel bon défenseur tu fais.

    Lise Morissette – Directrice – Ventes et marketing

    Distribution de fromages fins d’origine

    280, rue des Érables, local 602, Neuville (Québec) G0A 2R0



    Pensez vert avant d’imprimer!

  2. I agree wholeheartedly with you Georgs, our Canadian cheesemakers are producing some fabulous products and need the support of the Canadian public to continue doing so however, the Québec cheese industry needs to “get with the program” and ensure that their cheeses are not overpriced in the rest of the country. I believe that one can buy Québec cheeses cheaper in the States than in the rest of Canada and that needs to change immediatement! Also, artisanal cheesemakers who sell their product at the farmgate and through distributors need to price their product so that the price is the same especially if they do a shipping program. There is one cheesemaker in Ontario who’s product I will not sell in my store as they do not blackout delivery to customers within the areas covered by their distributor. I have had customers returning complaining about the price thai I must charge because they can buy their product online cheaper. Yes, they have to pay for the shipping but the average customer does not factor that into the cost of the product. Cheesemakers cannot have things both ways. If they want distributors and retailers to promote their products then they have to understand and support that side of the business too.

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