People always ask me about this word and what it really has to do with cheese. Terroir is often translated as the ‘taste of the land’ and is a real and yet ephemeral blend of the land, the tradition and the character of any regional product. Cheese is a true expression of the concept of terroir, perhaps even more so, in my opinion, than wine.
Everything within a region, from the animals, climate, vegetation, water and soil, has an effect on the milk which is the nascence of all artisanal cheeses. Combine these factors with the production techniques specific to each cheese, the traditions transmitted down through generations and the quality of the final affinage, and only then can one finally begin to understand the meaning of terroir. So while one can follow the recipe for making a certain cheese, the end product will be an expression of the terroir it represents. Hence, a camembert-like cheese made in Vermont or California might be similar to a Camembert de Normandie, it will recall its roots and therefore be unique.