From their green meadow, Jacotte and Isère have a breathtaking view of the oyster beds of the island of Arz (Morbihan). With about twenty of their fellows in black and white coats, they live and graze here all year round, day and night. And it is with the milk of these Breton black piebald cows, an old and local breed that almost disappeared, that Thomas Meignan and his three associates make Gwell. This traditional Breton fermented coarse milk recipe was found and brought up to date in the 1980s by breeders who saved the breed.
Grouped together in an association, they are now 15 to produce and sell Gwell. “Very soft, smooth and tangy, it can be tasted like yogurt with both sweet and savory,” explains Thomas, holder of a doctorate in epidemiology. It is also an indigenous natural ferment that allows us to seed the milk for our cheeses. “
If Gwell already has its brand and specifications that govern its production and the related breeding system, the association of producers is now aiming to obtain a Protected Designation of Origin (PDO). Brittany already has some for buckwheat or cider, but it would be a first for milk. “We also want to protect this ferment so that it remains in the hands of farmer producers,” adds Thomas. The latter have been working for several years with researchers to better understand the astonishing bacterial diversity of Gwell. Obtaining the PDO should take several years.