There are dozens of Manchegos made according to the rules of the denomination of origin for La Mancha. This is one of the few that is hand made with unpasteurized milk from a single herd, aged with an unwaxed rind. It’s produced by Maria José at Finca Sierra La Solana, a ranch from 1878 that grows grapes and almonds and has recently returned to cheese production. Much of the animal’s feed is grown on the land, under the direction of Pedro Belmar who is also deeply involved with the cheesemaking.
Like with Essex’s other cheeses, we focus on a flavor profile, not a particular age or price. Each Manchego we offer has been selected just for Essex on site by José Luis Martin, a former Manchego maker who helped rebuild the cheesemaking operation at La Solana.
We select for sweetness and balance, avoiding the overly salted and fiery flavors that afflict many Manchegos. The waxless rind allows the cheeses to breath; the cut cheese aroma is clean with notes of hay and almond.
“I’ve never had such an amazing Manchego. I’ve had maybe a dozen or more examples and this one is by far the best and most complex and balanced. I’ve only been working with cheese for 8 years mind you and there’s a lot I’ve yet to sample, but GOOD LORD IT’S GOOD!!!”
“Buttery, complexly herbal and nutmeg-ey, this Spanish sheep’s milk cheese puts most other Manchegos to shame.”
Martin Johnson, The Joy of Cheese
“An artisanal farmstead Manchego in a sea of mass production.”
Robin Raisfeld and Rob Patronite, New York Magazine
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