Made from semi-skimmed, raw cow’s milk, Montasio is produced in the area of Alpe Guile (Guilian Alps) in the province of Fuili in north-eastern corner of Italy. The origins of this cheese begin in the thirteenth century at an abbey called Moggio. However, due to the popularity of the cheese in the nineteenth century, production spread to the surrounding areas and Montasio is now made in a number of dairies and factories in the region.
Montasio was granted full DOC (desingated name) protection in 1986.
Montasio is a pressed, cooked cheese, meaning that the curd is “cooked” at a high temperature during production. This results in a greater expulsion of moisture from the curd and makes the cheese suitable for longer aging.
Cheeses are generally released at one of three different stages, the earliest being at two months. Partially aged cheeses are sold at four months and Aged cheeses at one year, when they resemble a Piave or Asiago.
Young cheeses are quite aromatic and mild, with flavors of grass and fruit and a pliant texture. As the cheeses mature, they gain more depth of flavor, developing notes of butterscotch, salt, and nuts and the texture becomes noticeably firmer.
The rind is firm and yellow-gray in color, with occasional dots of red or brown mold.
Montasio makes a wonderful table cheese and works well as an accompaniment to pastas or salads. Also, a local delicacy in the Fruili region is “Frico”, a crispy cheese wafer made from aged Montasio.
The cheese pairs well with red wines, particularly Barbaresco or Bordeaux.