Roncal
Cheese

The DO Cheese Roncal, is a raw milk cheese from sheep of the Latxa and Navarra breeds, with a minimum maturation period of four months and made exclusively in one of the seven municipalities that make up the Roncal Valley: Uztaroz, Isaba, Urzainqui, Roncal, Vidángoz and Burgi.

www.quesoroncal.com

Region covered

The raw sheep’s milk with which this cheese is made can come from any point of Navarra, but the cheese itself must be produced and matured in one of the seven municipalities which make up the Roncal Valley: Uztaroz, Isaba, Urzainqui, Roncal, Vidángoz and Burgui. 

The Roncal Valley is one of the few landscapes which can still offer travellers the beauty of untouched nature, an infrequent combination of human and environmental wealth. The climate is clearly continental, with winters with abundant snowfall, which make the valley an ideal place for skiing, and hot, sunny summers, which invite you to stroll over the green mountainsides.

Characteristics

Roncal cheese is a compact cylindrical cheese with a good rind. Fragile and brittle when cut, firm but dotted with small regular holes. 

It is a cheese which is fragile when cut and dotted with small even-sized holes. It is ivory white, tending towards pale yellow, and has a strong, pronounced, slightly spicy flavour, very defined and buttery on the palate. 

It contains no more than milk, animal rennet and salt, so this cheese has never lost its characteristic flavour and aroma.

The Roncal Protected Designation of Origin certifies both younger Roncal cheeses which have been matured for at least four months and more cured cheeses which have been allowed to ripen for nine or ten months. 

The cheese is sold in one- and three-kilogram formats or in wedges, and always bears a numbered back label and the Designation logo in a visible place.

History

Roncal Cheese was the first cheese to receive the Cheeses of Spain Designation by means of the Order of the Ministry of Agriculture of 2 March 1981. Subsequently, the Regional Order of the Government of Navarra’s Department of Agriculture, Livestock and Food of 3 July 1989 approved the Rules for the Designation of Origin and its Regulatory Council.

The Regulatory Council works to promote, investigate and control its production, as well as improve the quality of the product through a standard according to which the dairy laboratories of the companies which produce it are supervised. It also regularly inspects the cheesemakers and farms where it is made, and all Roncal cheeses are tasted by an official tasting committee, which assesses their organoleptic properties, and subjected to physical and chemical controls at accredited laboratories.

Contact

D.O. Queso del Roncal

Certification

All the processes involved in the growing, packaging and labelling of the end product are audited by INTIA, Instituto Navarro de Tecnologías e Infraestructuras Agroalimentarias, S.A., the control body of the PDO in charge of ensuring that the certified product meets the requirements required by the Specifications. 

INTIA is accredited by ENAC (National Accreditation Body) according to the European Standard UNE-EN ISO/IEC 17065:2012.

The certification system implemented consists of verifying that:

The milk comes exclusively from registered farms located in the production area.
The milking, cooling, preservation, collection and transport of the milk is controlled by the Regulatory Council.
The cheese is made at registered cheesemakers in the production area which are audited by the Regulatory Council.
Maturation and storage are also carried out on premises registered and audited by the Regulatory Council.
The final product undergoes the relevant physical, chemical and organoleptic analyses in order to guarantee its quality.

Roncal Cheese

You can choose between a younger Roncal cheese which has been matured for at least four months or a more cured one which has been allowed to ripen for nine or ten months. The cheese is sold in one- and three-kilogram formats or in wedges, and always bears a numbered back label, the Roncal Designation of Origin logo and the Reyno Gourmet logo in a visible place.

Being a product covered by a PDO, the labelling may also include the European Designation of Origin logo.


Production

Roncal DO cheese is made with raw sheep’s milk. It is an entirely natural product, obtained from the milking of healthy sheep, mainly of the Latxa breed, which feed on pasture and forage.

Roncal Cheese is totally handmade, following the traditional method, and contains no more than milk, animal rennet and salt, so it has never lost its characteristic flavour and aroma.

It is matured for at least 4 months, which allows it to slowly acquire all its unique aroma, texture and flavour.

Preservation

To preserve Roncal cheese well, without suffering any loss or decrease in its magnificent qualities, it is best to follow one of the following recommendations:

Keep it in a plastic bag:

  • It is best to use a bag and not cheese paper. If tight plastic is placed over the rind, then the cheese cannot release moisture and the entire cheese will go soft. Plastic bags, on the other hand, allow it to breathe. It should be kept in the coldest part of the fridge because natural processes continue to take place inside the cheese. The fridge slows down this natural maturation, preventing it from acquiring a taste too strong.

Place it in an airtight container:

  • If you have already started the cheese, the remaining part should be left in the fridge in a hermetically sealed plastic container along with a piece of dry bread. In this way, the bread absorbs any moisture and protects the cheese from going mouldy or drying out too much. Change the bread when it goes mouldy.

In both cases, cut the piece you are going to eat at least an hour beforehand and put the rest back in the fridge. In the course of that hour, the cheese should be at room temperature so it can warm up after the fridge and lose the chill which takes away so much of its flavour.

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