Located in the town of Villafranca de los Barros in the autonomous Extremadura region of Spain, Cheese Factory Tierra de Barros is in the heart of an area well known for its wines and cheeses. Its owners, Cristina Mangas Durán and Ernesto Méndez de la Cueva left successful careers in science and at the Denomination of Origin to start their own cheese factory in 1999. They had a vision of producing cheeses their own way. The result is a dairy that blends modern technology with artisanal cheese-making techniques. Made from either raw sheep or goat’s milk, Tortita de Barros is a cheese that is aged for 60 days. During that time, the cheese is wrapped in cloth, which is changed at regular intervals, and the cheese is flipped by hand to ensure even maturation. While some of the cheese-making process is automated, such as cutting the curds, the cheeses are ladled into their molds, pressed, flipped and salted all by hand. Additionally, the factory uses only raw milk from pasture-fed animals in its cheeses and thistle rennet harvested on the farm in the coagulation process.
The resulting cheese has a thin, brittle butter-yellow rind that is wrapped in white lace. The interior is smooth and glossy white. There are small eyes unevenly spaced throughout the paste. Tortita de Barros’ aroma is herbaceous, a reflection of the wild herbs such as thyme and heather that grow on the farm. Its flavor is of fresh goat’s milk with a slightly bitter taste in the finish from the thistle rennet.
With its vegetal qualities, this cheese will do very well with a leathery red wine such as certain Italian reds such as Chianti or Barolo. Tortita de Baros works well as a baked cheese when sprinkled with smoked paprika and marjoram.