If Barolo is the king of wines, the title of King of cheeses has always belonged to Castelmagno.; thanks to its flavor made of mountain milk and fragrant pastures, the microclimate of the valley so suitable for aging. Yet its origins are far from noble. On the contrary, its history is rooted in the extreme poverty of the Upper Grana Valley (Alta Valle Grana), where neither vines nor wheat grow. Breathtaking landscapes, where nature is queen, impervious pastures, stone houses overhanging the mountain gorges... Castelmagno crumbly grain, made of pressed cheese, is unique: and it derives from the fact that every producer in ancient times had very few cows and very little milk, and in order to produce a whole cheese to sell at the market they had to get together, "press" the cheese of several families through several days. Nothing like Castelmagno bears witness to the daily struggle for survival that the proud people of these mountains has continued to fight for millennia.
The consortium for the protection of Castelmagno was established in 1984. In the census of 1923 the production was limited only to the municipality of Castelmagno; currently it is produced in Castelmagno, Pradleves and Monterosso Grana. It is the PDO cheese with the most limited production area in Europe. The conferment of the PDO in '96 by the European Union has encouraged the increase in production and quality improvement of Castelmagno. The age of the producers has changed; the first founders have left the companies to their children who have tried to expand them and structure them in the best way.
The Consortium, by law, does not make sales activities, but deals with the protection, promotion, conformity control of the product for a greater guarantee to the consumer. Currently on the market there are two types of Castelmagno: Castelmagno Prodotto della Montagna, on the market all year round; and Castelmagno d'Alpeggio can be purchased from May to October. The Consortium has 9 members, of which 5 producers and 4 seasoners.
The origin of Castelmagno is very ancient: perhaps a little later if not contemporary to Gorgonzola, which was already known in 1100. Its name comes from the ancient sanctuary of San Magno, martyr protector of cattle and pastures, a structure built from an ancient temple on Mars that dominates the ancient village from its 1800 meters. Because of its noble flavor, Castelmagno has always enjoyed a huge celebrity. In 1277 the Marquis of Saluzzo sued the town of Castelmagno, accusing it of having sent cows to graze on its meadows. The sentence gives reason to the Marquis, who does not ask for money, but an annual supply of the precious cheese.
In the nineteenth century Castelmagno lives its golden age by making an appearance in the most exclusive restaurants in London and Paris, but the two world wars turned the Alps into a theater of bayonets and cannons, and in the 60s Castelmagno is almost forgotten, with the depopulation of the mountains for the search of work in the factory. The recovery takes place in the 80s, also thanks to the commitment and passion of the gastronome Luigi Veronelli. In 1996 he obtained the recognition from Europe as a protected designation of origin (PDO) product.
The making of
The milk is obtained from two milkings per day. The coagulation is carried out on raw milk heated in steel or copper boilers up to 30-38° using liquid rennet. The curd is then broken, left to rest under whey and finally extracted and put in cloths where it is left to drain for about 24 hours. At the end of this period, the curd is cut into slices and immersed in steel or plastic tanks containing whey from the day's processing. In this serum the curd is left for 2 or 3 days, after which it is extracted and finely chopped. The mince is then salted with coarse salt, compressed into steel or plastic strips and pressed for 24-48 hours. The application of the origin mark is imprinted on the cheese. The seasoning is carried out in natural rooms or in fresh and humid cells and lasts for at least two months.
As our famous writer Mario Soldati said, in life all you need is "a slice of Castelmagno, a loaf of rye bread and a glass of full-bodied wine, nothing else". Castelmagno is also perfect with a drizzle of honey or extra virgin olive oil. In the kitchen it goes very well with rice, potato, gnocchi al Castelmagno, a recipe that is attributed to Veronelli himself. The fondue, with a strong flavor, goes well with wheat or buckwheat crespelle. The best match is with local red wines, because the organoleptic characteristics of Castelmagno and its ability to dry the palate combine perfectly with the tannins and acidic components of Piedmontese reds. For the young Castelmagno, of two or three months of aging, the wines must be fresh, scented with flowers. Excellent with a Ruchè di Castagnole Monferrato, a Barbera d'Asti or a Nebbiolo d'Alba. For the medium-aged Castelmagno, of 4 or 6 months up to 12 months, the wines must be full-bodied, medium-aged, with intense aromas, like Nizza. For the 36 months, the great wines of the Langhe such as Barolo, Barbaresco, but also Roero and Nebbiolo of Upper Piedmont are ideal.
Via Vittorio Veneto, 1 Fr. Chiotti 12020 Castelmagno (CN)
Tel e Fax 0171 986234
Cell 333 6348633
Via Matteotti,5 Fr. Chiappi 12020 Castelmagno (CN)
Tel 0173 793320
Via Vecchia Provinciale, 1 12027 Pradleves Cuneo
Tel 0171 986233
Via Reale Nord, 2 12030 Marene (CN)
Tel 0172 742575
Via Comunale, 6 Fr. Chiappi 12020 Castelmagno (CN) [Sede estiva] Via Armandi, 4 Monterosso Grana 12020 (CN) [Sede invernale]
Cell +39 339 8652517
Valle Grana P.zza Caduti,1 12020
Tel 0171 986233
Borgata Marrobert 3
12020 Monterosso Grana (CN)
Tel 0171 989169