Cantal is one of the oldest cheeses in France dating to the times of the Gaul’s rule. It received an Appellation d'Origine (AOC) status in 1956. This has ensured that the semi-hard, uncooked, pressed cheese has the features and characteristics attributable to the area of origin.
This semi-hard cheese is aged for several months. The form is massive, and the cheese has a soft interior. Its flavor, which is somewhat reminiscent of Cheddar, is a strong, tangy butter taste and grows with age. A well ripened Cantal has a vigorous taste, while a young cheese has the sweetness of raw milk. Its smell is of earth and pasture lands, and is reminiscent of the rich pasture land of the Auvergne region it originates from. According to the time of aging, three varieties are distinguished:
- Cantal jeune (aged 1–2 months)
- Cantal entre-deux or Cantal doré (aged 2–6 months)
- Cantal vieux (aged more than 6 months).