Valdivieso – Truffled Sheep Cheese
This is a project developed at the whim of Luis, who wants to develop a truffled cheese different from what has been normally done in the market.
It is a truffled cheese where the true protagonist is the cheese, which has a companion that enhances and projects it, such as the natural black truffle from Soria (Tuber melanosporum). We achieve this because we do not use any type of flavoring or truffle cream, we simply scratch it during the process of manually filling the molds.
For this cheese, we have developed a unique and innovative recipe, where we combine the recipe for a semi-cooked pasta cheese with traditional Spanish pressed pasta. In addition, we developed a recipe for ferments rich in probiotics that help our digestive system.
We choose pasteurized milk so that it can be enjoyed by everyone, especially pregnant women.
Finca Valdivieso is a family farm that began its journey back in 1880. Since then, we have been working the fields for generations to feed and care for our flock of La Mancha sheep from which we obtain the best quality milk to handcraft the most recognized cheese in Spain: Artisan Manchego DOP Cheese This is probably La Mancha’s most universal contribution to gastronomy and culture, not only in Spain, but throughout the world.
Since the founding of Finca Valdivieso, we have worked day after day to achieve excellence when it comes to producing a cheese of the highest quality, respect for tradition and a unique complexity and typicity.
When it comes to flavor, in Valdivieso we have always displayed an enormous personality and a strong commitment to local identity. This is because we strive to transform the raw materials in an artisanal and natural way throughout the entire production process, which takes place within our farm. This is what the French understand as a fermier process, or within the farm.
We take care of the breeding, selection, care and feeding of our Manchega breed livestock. The milk produced by our sheep is selected, keeping the highest quality and producing DOP Artisan Manchego Cheese and pasteurized soft cheese from it. Afterward, the cheese is refined in our chambers and in the cave, allowing it to be covered in the natural molds that inhabit our facilities. Just before reaching our customers, we brush and oil them, so they can enjoy the wonderful flavor of their bark.
This special care has led us to prefer to have a close relationship with our clients. 80% of our cheeses are sold locally, to neighbors and friends, who choose us among hundreds of cheese shops because of our firm commitment to quality instead of quantity. We work with a few, very well selected distributors, who treat our product with the care and affection with which we prepare and refine it. Online sales are the best channels so that those people who do not have access to our cheeses in the rest of Spain can enjoy them.
Everyone is invited to visit us at our Cinco Casas Cheese Factory, and also at our Campo de Criptana and Tomelloso stores.
Valdivieso Livestock. The Manchega Sheep
More than 2000 years old, it is one of the oldest native breeds in Europe. Accustomed to feeding on fallow fields and stubble, instead of green meadows like its companions in northern Spain or the rest of Europe, and drinking water a few times a day, as well as enduring sudden changes in temperature in the area, it is one of the most rustic and strongest breeds in the world. At the same time, always having little food and water available, it has evolved to have a high concentration of fat and protein in milk to feed its lambs well. That is its main characteristic.
In 1954, the germ of what would later become AGRAMA (1964) was founded, the National Association of Manchega Sheep Breeders, whose function is to contribute to the improvement and maintenance of the Manchega Sheep and its importance.
The production of Manchega Sheep milk is intended only for the production of DOP Manchego Cheese , which is why it is the milk with the highest price per liter that can be found today, being almost double that of sheep of other breeds.
Furthermore, at Valdivieso we are especially concerned with guaranteeing excellent quality and hygiene for the milk, exhaustive care of our sheep so that our DOP Artisan Manchego Cheese from raw milk has the highest quality.
Our sheep are fed 90% with grass from our farm. These grasses are collected green and stored so that they maintain their properties throughout the year. In addition, our sheep take advantage of the stubble on the farm, the fallow fields, and the remains of the melon groves and garlic that have been planted in the fields. Every day, at least 25% of the herd goes out to graze in the fields. Finally, all the waste generated by the sheep is used to compost the fields, thus closing the circle.
ARTISAN DOP MANCHEGO CHEESE
The Regulatory Council of the Manchego Cheese Protected Designation of Origin was founded in 1985, although its gestation dates back to 1945. It was the search by ranchers and producers for a figure that would protect the region’s Cheese made with the milk of a breed that, due to her low milk production, she was losing more and more. This figure was very controversial since, originally, all pressed cheese made in Spain was sold under the same name, inciting consumer confusion. It did not matter the type of milk, the origin or where the cheese was made, or whether the sheep was from La Mancha or from France (Lacaune) or Israel (Assaf), two of the most widespread breeds of sheep in Spain since they have much higher milk production, but with much lower quality.
Our Manchego cheese is made in a way that fully respects the quality and properties of our sheep’s milk. We receive milk from milking the previous afternoon and the same morning, so less than 12 hours always pass from milking to processing. Milk is always stored below 4 degrees.
Next, we take the milk to the curdling vat, where a small proportion of ferments are added to guide the fermentation of the native bacteria of our milk, and we heat it to about 30 degrees slowly, to add the natural lamb rennet. Once we have added the natural lamb rennet, we wait the time necessary to cut that curd and create grain the size of corn. Then we heat the grains 4 or 5 degrees more, stirring so that they harden and release the internal whey. Then we proceed to separate the grains from the whey, and introduce the curd into the molds manually.
That is when we proceed to press the cheese, little by little, progressively for the time necessary to reach an adequate acidity. This time varies depending on the time of year and the ambient temperature. During these four hours, turning is done, and the Casein Plate is placed that will identify the cheese as Manchego Artesano DOP , with a unique number and series for each cheese. Once the cheese has been pressed, it is manually or dry salted for 12 hours, then washed and placed in the drying chambers.
Here begins a part just as important as the elaboration, which is tuning. The master refiner must worry about manually turning all the cheeses, so that they maintain their shape, a homogeneous ripening, and develop molds on the rind uniformly. Once the cheese reaches two months of maturation, it is brushed and coated with extra virgin olive oil, which is a natural preservative. From there they will be matured quietly in the Valdivieso cave, where they will acquire the characteristic nuances for up to 3, 6 or 12 months depending on the type of maturation that the client prefers.