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

Allison Spurrell stocks the larders of the city’s finest restaurants and your fridge alike, through les amis du FROMAGE, cheese shops in the Kitslano and Strathcona neighbourhoods in Vancouver which she runs with Joe Chaput. Their shelves are filled with 400 cheeses, including local, raw milk French, Italian and other specialties. They also sell foie gras, pâtés, crackers, biscuits, varietal olive oils, vinegars and other specialty food items and their kitchen in Strathcona prepares popular frozen taken away meals. Les amis du FROMAGE has received Vancouver Magazine's Restaurant Award as a top food supplier to Vancouver’s best restaurants and hotels. Allison is a proud member of Confrerie les Chevalier du Taste Fromage de France. To buy cheese visit: les amis du FROMAGE in Kitslano - 1752 West 2nd Ave | Tel (604) 732-4218 or Strathcona - 843 East Hastings St | Tel 604-253-4218 | www.buycheese.com.