Gruyere Alpage

Formaggio Kitchen Exclusive

Country of Origin: Switzerland
Region: Gruyère
Type of Milk: Cow
Flavor Profile: Medium-strong

This is one of the several cheeses we are proud to add to our collection of Swiss cheeses. For some time, we have been hoping to find a source for artisanal cheeses from Switzerland. In 2004 Ihsan, Valerie and Archer visited the cheese festival in Bra and were lucky enough to finally sit down with Konrad Heusser. They tasted more than 20 cheeses with Konrad all washed down with rich amber ales from the nearby British tables. Thus began what has turned out to be a very fruitful relationship. In the winter of 2005, Ihsan took a quick, but valuable trip to Zurich to taste more cheese and to personally select the wheels we would import. The cheeses he selected are all from smaller producers, typically made using uncooked milk from animals that have eaten from the pastures during the warmer months. These cheeses have a flavor that is notably deeper than their more common counterparts.

The term alpage that is used to distinguish this Gruyere is an important word in the world of cheese. As with the terms farmhouse or fermier in France, the term alpage connotes a qualitative difference from other cheeses. Alpage means mountain pasture and when used to describe a cheese, it means that the milk is taken from the cow's only during the warmer months when the herd is able to graze on the wild flowers and grasses of the alpine pastures.

While the term specifically applies to the grazing area of the cows, in this case, it also means that the cheese is hand-made by a small producer in a small burron high up in the mountains. All of these factors come through dramatically in this cheese. The rind maintains more of a tacky texture than other Gruyeres, the texture is a bit richer, the aroma a bit funkier and the flavor is broad in its spectrum of nuts, milk, fruit and hay.

We were lucky enough to get three of these wheels this winter. You could use this in your fondue, but we prefer it as the centerpiece of our cheese plate. For a few pictures of the production of this cheese, check out our Travelogue section.

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Gruyere Alpage
Product ID: 01200
Price: $17.48 / ½ lb
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