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Alpage Gruyere – made in 2012, sold in 2013

     When most people here the word “Alp”, they think of the mountains shared by Switzerland, France, Italy, Germany and Austria.

     When a cheese lover hears the word “Alp”, they might think of a high mountain pasture, where the cows go to graze during the late spring and summer months, up where things are peaceful and serene.

     When a cows “thinks” about an “Alp”, they are probably engaged in blissful contemplation on a wide variety of fresh and moist mountain grasses, herbs and wildflowers that they can munch on non-stop.  If they chew up one spot, they just amble a foot over to the next spot.  They are probably also relishing the cool weather.  Cows love being outside, but they don’t like to be hot.  The cows might also be thinking about the warm barn they can go into, if it’s raining or nighttime.  For a cow, an alp is paradise.   Here’s a picture of a typical cow heaven:

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When a Swiss cheese maker retires after 4 decades of mastering their craft, he or she often thinks about a summer job, when they hear the word “Alp.”  They think about making cheese each day during the grazing months, and going back to the work that they love and know so well.  They think about the chalet on top of the alp where they can drink wine and eat rustic fare for free after making the cheese. 

Here’s a picture of a chalet, where I ate some fine pork chops and spaetzle, and drank some crisp Swiss white wine:

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Here’s a picture of the make room on top of this alp:

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Here’s a picture of the fire pit:

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Here is a picture of the cheese press:

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When I hear the word “Alp” I think of a place that has the potential to make the finest cheese possible.  In my opinion the world’s greatest cheeses rest on a tripod made up of the best milk, the best cheese maker and the best aging.  The cows grazing in the alpine heaven provide the greatest milk.  A cheese maker with 4 decades of experience provides unparalleled expertise.  Finally, we sent this year’s offering to a cellar master back at the end of last year’s (2012) alpine season.  For the last 12 months, he has been carefully and lovingly aging it for us.  This cheese is ready to please.

As always, our Alpage Gruyere has a complex and long lasting palate of flavors.  At the beginning we tasted notes of beef, onion broth and clove.  At the end, we tasted floral notes, wine and brandy.

The texture is both well knit and light.  That is that the cheese is solid and consistent when you bite into it, but it will melt on your tongue as you continue to chew.

We are thrilled by this Alpage Gruyere and think you will be too.©

Joe Zuercher

October 7, 2013 ©