World Cheese Encyclopaedia - Each Sunday learn all about a new cheese.
This week Valdeón from Spain.
Region: Castilla Leon
Made from: Cow’s & Goat’s milk
Pasteurised: Yes and no
Texture: Creamy, grainy, spreadable
Taste: Blue, spicy, caramel, rich
Aging: 2 to 4 months
Picos de Europa, also known as Valdeón, is a Spanish blue cheese produced in Valdeón Valley of Castile-Leon region of the northwestern Spain. Queso di Valdeón has been awarded a status of Protected Geographical Indication (PGI) to regulate the production, processing and preparation of the cheese. In 2005, the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food granted the cheese an award for best Blue Veined Spanish Cheese.
Production of Valdeón Cheese has been taking place for many centuries. Valdeón is one of a number of similar type cheeses from the valley of Valdeón, in the northwestern section of the province of Leon, on the edge of the Picos de Europa mountains. The mountains hold many natural caves that have always been used by shepherds for shelter and for keeping cheeses.
A bold and salty cheese, Valdeón’s uniqueness lies in its manufacturing process, which includes long and traditional maturing in the cold, damp cellars until the cheese reaches a mature or medium mature age. The pate of Valdeón has a soft, granular texture and pale yellow colour and is full of small cavities filled with blue moulds. Covered by a coarse, inconsistent rind in dark grey shades with little red marks, Valdeón is very strong and spicy in taste similar to Roquefort.
Valdeón is cave aged for a minumum of two months up to four month. The most traditional Valdeón is still produced wrapped in "plageru" (sycamore) leaves, which allow certain bacteria to penetrate the cheese and add complexity. Traditional Valdeón can also be made with small amounts of goat's milk.
Valdeón is a fairly assertive blue cheese, without being harsh. The paste is semi firm and it delivers a complex array of flavors, with an underlying sweet, almost caramel-like note. This complexity is multiplied by the inclusion of goat's milk, which has gained popularity in recent years.
The paste is cream-colored ivory, with punctuated holes and striations of greyish green mold.
The rind is natural, thin, soft, rough, with patches of mold, and yellowish with gray tinges. The paste is ivory-white to cream, firm, pasty, and shiny, and is slightly darker at the edges, depending on the degree of ripeness. When cut, there are many large, uneven holes, distributed evenly and colored greeny-blue.
How to Enjoy It
Valdeón pairs well with Gruner Veltliner, Reisling, or sweeter dessert wines such as Sauternes or Muscat.
Sources: Wikipedia, culturecheesemag.com, cheese.com, foodswinesfromspain.com, vivino.com