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.
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: