Anthony Gismondi on Wine
Thursday, May 21 2020

Gruyere l’Etivaz AOP

By: Allison Spurrell
Not your typical Gruyere

Fromage d’Alpage, or Alpine cheese, is an apt description for this unique small production Gruyere.


Cheese Name: Gruyere l’Etivaz AOP

Origin: Town of Etivaz, in the Canton of Vaud, Switzerland

Milk Type: Raw (unpasteurized) cow’s milk

Style: Aged mountain cheese


This very specific version of Gruyere is made in the southwestern Swiss Alps, in the canton of Vaud. The milk is cooked over an open wood fire in copper vats. Because of this traditional method you will sometimes notice tiny flecks of soot in the paste of the cheese. In 1932, seventy-six Gruyere producing families founded their own cheese co-operative. They felt the cheese they produced was of a higher quality than the standards the government required for Gruyere production, and they wanted to preserve the unique flavour of the terroir of their area. The milk for the wheels is collected from May to October when the cows are grazing outside in the alpine meadows. The area for summer grazing is between 1000 and 2000 meters, and has an abundance of alpine grasses and flowers that are extremely important to the flavour of the milk. The wheels are aged between 5 – 13 months depending on the size of the wheels. Other mountain cheeses are made to a mostly uniform size, but Gruyere l’Etivaz is dependent on milk quantities at the various chalets, so the wheels can be anywhere from 15 - 35 kilos. 

Tasting Notes:

The alpine flora is an important component of the finished wheels of l’Etivaz. The cheese can vary greatly in taste, but look for flavours of roasted nuts, meat broth, and fruit. Expect an earthy, sharp finish. 

Pairing: Although you might think of most Gruyere as a cooking cheese, this isn’t the cheese for that. The rich flavours of l’Etivaz hold up well to cured meats or dry style salami, and would be great for a stay at home picnic in your back yard.

Suggested wine pairings:

Written By: Allison Spurrell
Allison Spurrell
Allison Spurrell

les amis du FROMAGE is a family owned and operated specialty cheese store with two locations in Vancouver. With a carefully curated selection of local and imported cheeses, charcuterie and accompaniments, they also specialize in frozen soups and meals, all made in house using top quality ingredients. Founded in 1985 by the mother and daughter team of Alice and Allison Spurrell, les amis du FROMAGE is proud to still remain a family owned and operated Vancouver company after over 30 years in business. Current owners Allison Spurrell and Joe Chaput have come a long way since the original shoe-box sized store opened in Vancouver’s Point Grey neighborhood. You can rest assured that their mission is to continue the company’s reputation of offering the highest quality cheeses, cut to order, along with one-to-one customer service. Vancouver - 1752 West 2nd Avenue, BC V6J H6 Tel (604) 732-4218; Strathcona 843 East Hastings Street.V6A 1R8 Tel 604-253-4218. www.buycheese.com.