The cheese of St-Nectaire has been growing in reputation ever since Louis XIV had it regularly served at his table; only cheeses made from herds grazing in a limited area to the south of the Monts-Dore are entitled to the appellation contrôlée. The cheese is made in two stages. First, a white creamy cheese or tomme is produced. This is matured for two to three months in a cellar at a constant temperature; the resulting mould on the skin produces the characteristic smell, taste and whitish or yellowy-grey colour.
There are two kinds of St-Nectaire cheese: fermier and laitier. The fermier is the strongest and tastiest, and some of it is still made entirely on local farms. Increasingly, however, farmers make the tomme and then sell it on to wholesalers for the refining stage. The laitier is more an “industrial” product, made from the milk of lots of different herds, and then sold onto a cooperative or cheese manufacturer for its final stages.