Formaggio d’Alpe Piora AOP
The most traditional cheese of Ticino - and the most imitated one
No other canton in Switzerland produces more different kinds of cheeses than Ticino. Yet every single one of the vast collection is crafted just in the matter of the Formaggio d’Alpe Piora AOP, the role model for all.
On the fact sheet, nothing about the Formaggio d’Alpe Piora AOP sounds exceptional. It is hand made in a traditional and simple way. The cows graze on the abundant alpine pastures from the beginning of June until the end of September, and the cheese is produced from that milk and during that period of time exclusively. The cheese is made of raw milk and with the use of one specific starter culture. The Formaggio d’Alpe Piora AOP is aged, until the end of the alp season at least, right where it was made. As is the case with so many alpine cheeses, not only from Ticino, but in general.
And yet, this cheese is more prestigeous than any other from that region. The pastures on the largest cheese producing alp of Ticino are located on altitudes between 6,000 and just under 7,000 ft. and count as some of the richest and most unique ones, growing herbs, flowers and grasses that can’t be found anywhere else. This lush land high up in the Leventina valley belongs to private folks. A corporation is in charge of the state of the art dairy built in 2005. The milk of the circa 260 brown cows grazing in the area throughout the summer are crafted into roughly 3,000 wheels, which are distributed between the partaking farmers at the end of the alpine saison in accordance to the amount of cattle they had up on Alpe Piora.
Formaggio d’Alpe Piora AOP has to be aged at least two months but reaches its peak after a maturation time of at least four to five months. It has a natural rind and a hard, very smooth paste with some small holes. The flavors appear milky and sweet at once, and they remind one of rich cream, with herbaceous and aromatic, sometimes green notes. - A pure and precious delicacy. No wonder every one wants to copy it.