Continuing with the National Goat Cheese Month theme here at C+C, today we venture to Italy to sample one of its most delicious cheeses, Caprino. Based on the Italian word capra, which means goat, caprini are delectable little goat’s-milk cheeses from the country’s Piedmont region, which borders France and Switzerland. It’s not surprising then that caprini resemble French chevres in shape and texture, but the sumptuous Caprino Tartufo I sampled is in a class all of its own.

Though it’s actually a Caprino Stagionato on the Wine Spectator list, I couldn’t find that cheese (often aged and seasoned) anywhere in the Twin Cities, and the Caprino Tartufo is a worthy substitute. Left to sit on the counter for just an hour, the cheese oozed runny paste when I cut into it. It lacked a strong goat odor and taste; instead, the clean creaminess made it a refreshing start to my dinner. The truffle (tartufo) added an earthy touch but didn’t overwhelm the cheese’s smooth flavor.

In his “Cheese Primer,” Steven Jenkins notes that Italians often eat their caprini with a drizzle of olive oil and cracked black pepper, so I got out my special bottle of Israeli extra-virgin olive oil and poured a dab onto the cheese, topping it with pepper. I tasted each ingredient separately upon taking my first bite – the fruity splash of the olive oil stands out at the beginning, then you get a smooth swallow of the cheese, and finally the spiciness of the pepper bursts through at the end. It would be a stand-out appetizer at a summer dinner party, provided you buy enough caprini to keep your goat-cheese-loving guests sated. Sommelier Mauro Cirilli recommends serving caprini with a light-bodied white wine, such as a Sauvignon Blanc from Italy’s Fruili-Venezia region.

If you’ve been watching this past season of “Lost,” you’ll appreciate the Egyptian influence on my cheese of the week, Valencay. (What is up with all the hieroglyphics? And who the hell is Jacob?) According to Steven Jenkins, this pyramid-shaped goat cheese was created for Napoléon during his campaign to conquer Egypt, but when the effort turned south, the Loire Valley cheesemaker, Pierre Jacquin, flattened the top of the pyramid. Apparently, that would help mitigate the blow of Napoléon’s unsuccessful takeover. It still looks like a pyramid to me, but maybe Napoléon (or Jacquin) wasn’t too bright.

You’ll find pasteurized Valencay throughout the United States, and it’s easily recognizable by its shape and gray ash coating. I assume the raw-milk version available in France is superior, as raw-milk cheeses usually are. I wasn’t all that impressed with the wedge I got from Surdyk’s, to tell you the truth. Rather than tasting clean and fresh, like so many young goat’s-milk cheeses, it has an off-putting sour taste that was hard to swallow. I had a similar cheese a few years ago from Whole Foods that I remember liking so much more, so I wonder if this particular piece had been mishandled or had been sitting in the case too long.

Valencay is definitely a white-wine cheese – Artisanal Cheese recommends a Sauvignon Blanc. Anything that could mitigate the sour taste of the cheese would be a welcome pairing!

My love of ooey-gooey soft-rind cheeses has already been well-documented. I love Chaource, I love Mt. Tam, I love any cheese that oozes from its soft shell. So why in the world did I not discover Le Chevrot until this week?

A pasteurized goat’s-milk cheese from France, Le Chevrot is very comparable to Chaource, even though the latter is a cow’s-milk cheese. I found them to be very similar in texture, and the taste, while not identical, wasn’t too far off. Le Chevrot didn’t taste at all like the clean-tasting Loire Valley cheese I sampled last week, but it didn’t have a strong goaty factor, either. Instead, I got a mouthful of creamy, runny deliciousness that I’ve been missing from my recently reviewed cheeses. Yum.

Sauvignon blanc is an oft-mentioned pairing for Le Chevrot, but I think most white wines would be a good match. Even though it doesn’t come from the Champagne region of France, I’d try it with some bubbly, too.

And if you’ll be consuming Le Chevrot yourself, look for the mini variety – I found mine at Surdyk’s – which is only 2.8 oz compared to the usual 6-8 oz. full-size disk. Of course, if you find it to be as delectable as I do, you may need to go for the super-size version.

Selles-sur-Cher is a sweet little button of goat cheese made in the heart of France’s Loire Valley. Named for the town from which it originated, this plucky cheese actually bigger than a button (it’s about 3 in. across), but its petite flavor gives it a smaller footprint on your tastebuds.

The blueish exterior of Sulles-sur-Cher may turn off French chèvre novices, but rest assured that it’s just a coating of vegetable ash, a common feature among Loire Valley goat’s-milk cheeses. The rind is edible, unless the cheese is aged considerably, but my portion was perfectly young and fresh. I enjoyed the clean, almost floral taste of Selles-sur-Cher – during a week when the snow is melting and the temperature starts to rise, it seemed to be the ideal cheese for welcoming spring. (Watch, I just jinxed Minnesota – we’ll have a blizzard next week.) You’ll only find pasteurized versions of Selles-sur-Cher in the United States, but my cheesemonger Benjamin at the Cheese Shop at France 44 assured me that it’s still quite tasty. Until I make it back to France, I’ll have to take his word for it.

Steven Jenkins recommends serving Selles-sur-Cher with sweet fruits, such as citrus and melon. I sampled mine with some canteloupe and found the pairing to be pleasant, though I also liked just slicing off small wedges while standing at the counter. He suggests a white Sancerre for a wine, while Artisanal Cheese recommends Sauvignon Blanc. I could even see a match with a sweeter white, like Muscat, but I haven’t tested that theory yet. Experiment on your own and let us know!