In one fruitiere, Maison Marcel Petite Fort St-Antoine, a converted barracks in Pontarlier, France, that has been refurbished as an aging cellar, I stood awestruck before thousands upon thousands of pale yellow wheels of comte. Inside each of them, the earthy, funky, yeasty, effervescing process of fermentation was at work. It is in such cellars that comte develops hints of chocolate, nutmeg, apricot, tobacco, hazelnut, pepper, and caramel. The emphasis in the making of comte is not on uniformity, as with some AOC cheeses, but on individuality. A young cheese may smell like butter, an older one like fruit and spices. But, no matter the age, comte is a celebrated melting cheese, used in France for everything from fondues to souffles and potato gratins.