Organic Fontina Cheese of Val d’Ayas
The organic cheeses and other dairy food produced by the Fromagerie Haut Val d’Ayas cooperative in Brusson, Aosta Valley, are obtained from the Valdostana Pezzata Rossa and Valdostana Pezzata Nera cattle breeds, reared up in the mountain pastures in the summer.
The Ayas Valley boasts a multi-centennial dairy tradition developed and handed down by the mountain cheese-makers. A trove of natural beauties and a popular tourist attraction, Brusson is also the production area of a number of cheeses, including Fontina DOP (PDO Protected Designation of Origin). The Fromagerie Haut Val d’Ayas is a cooperative which obtained an organic farming certification in 2005. The farm is the only one to produce organic-certified Fontina cheese.
Organoleptic properties of organic Fontina cheese
Fontina cheese is made with raw cow’s milk, salt, enzymes and rennet. Its shape is cylindrical and flattened. Its rind is thin but firm, and its brown colour varies from light to dark depending on the period of ageing it has undergone, from 90 to 150 days. The rind may go from soft to semi-hard. The interior paste, elastic and soft, ranges from ivory to different shades of straw-yellow in colour, with slightly visible eyes. Its flavour, mild and delicate when fresh, becomes stronger as the ageing process goes on. Summer-produced cheese is definitely more flavourful.
The Fromagerie Haut Val d’Ayas
Established as a cooperative in 2002, La Fromagerie Haut Val d’Ayas has become one of the leading dairies in the region, with 50 cattle sheds and 2,500 tonnes of milk produced and processed every year. As much as 80% of the milk produced is used to make up to 23,000 wheels of Fontina cheese every year. What led the farmers of the Ayas Valley to join forces was the need to share the costs of very much required technological improvements. Furthermore, the coalition makes it easier for the Fromagerie to sell and promote its products, and, in the bigger picture, it helps safeguarding cattle-breeding in the valley and the surrounding pastures. The Fromagerie Haut Val d’Ayas is also a vehicle for the milk obtained from the indigenous breeds, such and the Valdostana Pezzata Rossa and Valdostana Pezzata Nera.