AFFINEUR WALO - THE MAN WHO HAS TAKEN SWISS MOUNTAIN CHEESE TO NEW HEIGHTS
This is a story of a man and his cheese. Walo Von Mühlenen is a master affineur of Swiss cheese.
He is the 5th generation of cheese maturers in his family, a family whose cheese history dates back to 1867. Walo has
been called a cheese genius and of course he is, but he wears it lightly.
His technique is: firstly to source raw milk cheese from only the very best cheese-makers and farms; secondly to build a relationship with the cheese-makers to achieve even higher standards; and thirdly to select from them only the best cheeses.
The cheeses are then nurtured for up to 18 months in special cellars with optimal conditions, and cultures built up over time.
During this time the cheeses are turned, brushed and sometimes washed in wine or herbs, until they reach their peak.
Walo matures his cheeses at higher temperatures than less artisan producers, taking more risks in the pursuit of great cheese, because higher temperatures lead to fewer cheese making the grade. It is not surprising that Walo has won World Champion cheese award no fewer than three times for his Gruyère; and, in July this year, he won ‘Gold’ again, this time at Nantwich, for his Red Wine Farmer cheese. Walo’s cellars are in the heart of the Swiss cheese-making countryside.
BEN TICEHURST, CHEESE QUALITY MANAGER AT THE FINE CHEESE CO. , INTRODUCES WALO’S RANGE
1. RED NOSE, GOLD LABEL EXTRA MATURE
Produced by following what is essentially a Gruyère recipe, the taste is somewhat similar; but, during the 12 months of maturation, red
wine is rubbed onto the rind, and the cheese is matured in traditional natural caves that are both warmer and more humid than conventional maturing cellars. This leads to the classic Gruyère sweetness, a few salt crystals to add texture and pockets of intensity to the flavour, and, in the background, a hint of red wine which is more evident towards the rind.
A mature Gruyère-style cave-aged cheese at a bargain price.
2. EMMENTALER CAVE-AGED
This tastes unlike any other Emmental cheese we have come across.
Matured for 16 months by Walo in his caves, where the warmer conditions lead to a flavor that is unique. The cheese has the classic Emmental sweetnes,s but it is more intense and more complex, with a long finish as the flavour develops from sweet to tangy and ‘meaty’.
An after-dinner cheese for Emmentaler afficianados.
3. RED WINE FARMER
Red Wine Farmer has the strongest flavor of the Affineur Walo cheeses offered by us. It is relatively small at between 6 and 7 kg. The smaller size is important to the development of the flavour as there is greater influence from the rind, which is washed in locally produced red wine throughout the 7 – 8 months of maturation. Washing with red wine produces the classic aroma associated with all washed-rind cheeses, but the cheese is not washed so frequently so as to produce a sticky, ‘stinky’ rind; it simply imparts a pungent flavour to the recognisable Swiss sweetness. As a result, the flavour is more challenging than those of other Affineur Walo cheeses. It has split the team at FCC: those that love it and can’t get enough, and those that find it just that bit too strong. More people are in the former camp, but be assured you will never be ambivalent about the Red Wine Farmer!
Makes extraordinary cheese on toast.
4. STÄRNÄCHÄS EXTRA MATURE
Produced at the foot of the Säntis mountain near Appenzell,Stärnächäs has a flavor that sits somewhere between a Gruyère and
an Appenzeller. The texture is slightly supple and smooth, with only the occasional crystal and a few small holes found within the paste. The sweetness is not as intense as that of an aged Gruyère, as the cheese is aged for only 8 months. However, there is a quality about the flavour combined with the texture that is eminently ‘more-ish’: you just can’t stop going back for just one more nibble.
5. AFFINEUR WALO LE GRUYÈRE AOC EXTRA MATURE
Everything and more than any aged Gruyère carrying the cave-aged name. The Affineur Walo Le Gruyère AOC Extra Mature is matured for a minimum of 14 months in the caves that have been used by the Von Mühlenen family for decades. The caves are warmer than others used to mature cheese. This ‘warm’ aging is key to achieving a deeper, more rounded flavour. During the maturation, the cheese crystalises to deliver an intense flavour. The cheese is sweet, and the flavour is perfectly balanced. It grows and fills the mouth. There are the floral, fruity notes, but it is the silky texture with the crunchy crystals and immense flavour that set this cheese apart from other Gruyères. Walo’s dedication to producing cheese of the highest quality means he will never release a cheese that does not meet his exacting standards.
6. AFFINEUR WALO LE GRUYÈRE AOC
Matured in the same caves as the Extra Mature, the Gruyère AOC 6 Month is a cut above a classic equivalent Gruyère. While it does not quite have the same intensity as its big brother, the texture is ultra-smooth, almost like an almond paste, and the flavor has a subtle sweetness.
It is the perfect Gruyère for cooking and for breakfast.