My husband sent me this article earlier this week. I liked the article and think the continuing buzz about artisanal cheese can only be good for small scale producers that should be supported. However, I was left feeling that for the average person reading the Times, there might be some confusion as to the import of aging cheese.
This article is questioning the value of the middlemen, and their affinage of the product they're buying in. It does at all acknowledge the affinage that is required to finish a cheese and differentiate between necessary aging and "extra care" aging. When a middleman is buying in cheese at it's finished stage, then yes - I agree and think this "extra care" is just a way to inflate prices. When the middleman, such as Jasper Hill, is buying in a cheese just out of the mold (as they do with many small cheesemakers in VT) and taking complete responsibility for the extra important step of proper aging, then I think the price may be justified.
As a younger person with modest savings looking to build a creamery, I can say that the cost of building an ideal aging cave along with the cost of maintaining the correct ambient is a lot. I've met Marisa Mauro from Ploughgate Creamery and she says she wouldn't have been able to get her business off the ground without Jasper Hill's service.
I was left with the feeling that the article might be more confusing to consumers rather than helpful. Without addressing the affinage that is required to produced aged cheeses, I felt that it cast doubt on the importance of ALL affinage. That's just silly - we all know how important that part is!