What are the ingredients for a good cheese? Obviously good milk and a cheesemaker respectful of the rules of cleanliness and tradition. Even before, however, it is important to feed the animals that produce milk! That’s why the cheeses from the Alpine valleys are so extraordinarily good: there are no intensive farms, the animals graze outdoors for more than 8 months a year and there are no average production statistics to chase, as is the case in food factories.

The Fontina Dop is the icon of an Italian region, the Valle d’Aosta. It is produced only with the milk of cows belonging to the native breed; they are cows of modest size, very agile and slender, which withstand long transhumance and grazing in the open. Many small details combine to give a strong identity to this cheese. First of all, the pasturages in high altitude pasture characterized by wild herbs and flowers. Furthermore, the long maturation time in natural cellars, very humid and fresh.

In Italian gourmet-only stores it is sometimes possible to find fontina d’alpeggio. The term “alpeggio” means high altitude pasture, which the cows reach after days of walking, only in summer. The Consorzio di Tutela traceability system assigns a code to each manufacturer and it is based on the numbering of each form. It is thus possible to identify a form of Fontina Dop from mountain pastures: the gustatory experience is involving, with very intense aromatic characteristics.

Recommended wine: Vallée d’Aoste Doc, Torrette Superieur by Elio Ottin.

Marco Negro