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Estrema d’alpeggio, the high-altitude fontina cheese

Together we discover Estrema d’alpeggio, a cheese of excellence, as rare as it is delicious

Some claim that only mountain cheese is ‘real’ cheese. One thing is certain, however, and it is that precisely in the most impervious territories that the need to preserve milk, the fruit of hard work and limited production, was born.

An excellence within excellence, Estrema d’Alpeggio was created in 2016 from this very awareness and the desire to restore the right value to a unique product. Estrema d’Alpeggio is the expression of a territory that calls for great sacrifices but provides unique organoleptic characteristics to the product.

photo courtesy of Estrema d’Alpeggio ARPAV Fontina DOP

Fontina DOP and Estrema d’alpeggio: a “double” specification  

So, what is the difference between Estrema d’Alpeggio and Fontina PDO?

In a certain sense we could define the Estrema as a niche product within the Fontina PDO. In fact, the specifications governing its production are the same but in the case of Estrema, the rules are stricter.

Starting with the altitude. The specifications for Fontina PDO provide that the milk used comes exclusively from Valle d’Aosta breed cows, only on the territory of Valle d’Aosta. This is the same milk used to produce Estrema d’Alpeggio, but in this case it is produced from pastures expressly located between 2000 and 2700 metres above sea level. 

Not surprisingly, Estrema d’Alpeggio is considered the highest excellence in Europe! 

But there are other specifications that the Fontina PDO wheels must meet to become Estrema d’Alpeggio:

  1. the mountain pastures where the milk comes from are to be traced and indicated;
  2. the cows are to feed exclusively on pasture grass, without any kind of supplementation. A vegetative analysis of the grazed areas is therefore carried out;
  3. the minimum maturing period is 120 days, compared to 90 for the traditional Fontina. 

These restrictions create the uniqueness of the product, which has extraordinary organoleptic characteristics.

photo courtesy of Estrema d’Alpeggio ARPAV Fontina DOP
photo courtesy of Estrema d’Alpeggio ARPAV Fontina DOP

Estrema d’alpeggio on the table

Estrema d’Alpeggio expresses the scents and flavours of grazing land and mountain pastures in an enveloping way, melting in the mouth, with hints of mountain and cellar herbs, cooked butter, and a note of hazelnut. 

This cheese can be enjoyed on its own to fully appreciate all its qualities, but it certainly does not disdain certain culinary accompaniments. 

Wines to be paired with it should support the organoleptic structure, which is why full-bodied reds are most recommended. Those who enjoy cheese with honey can pair it with an aromatic one. Fresh fruit like apples and pears are ideal to add freshness and crispness, but the perfect way to enjoy it in Valle d’Aosta is with black rye bread and the widely known polenta. Do you know how to make polenta? Follow Laura’s recipe.

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