The Cheeses of Piedmont

Our 5 favorites, from a creamy robiola to a washed-rind blue

feature-the-cheeses-of-piedmont-1200x800-i166
Landon Nordeman

Even in Italy, a country renowned for its cheese, Piedmont is a standout. One of the region's most famous cheeses, montebore (pictured, upper left), is called "the wedding cake cheese" after its unique tiered shape, for which three or more creamy robiola-style cheeses—made from cows' and sheep's milk—are stacked atop one another in decreasing size. Robiolas, like the goats' milk one pictured (bottom left), are an ancient specialty of Piedmont's lowlands, where the round soft-ripened cheese can range from mild to pungent in flavor. There is a vast diversity beyond robiolas, too. Some of our other favorites (not pictured) include the Bra Duro Stravecchio, a semisoft D.O.P. (Protected Designation of Origin) cheese crafted in Bra from the milk of Razza Reggiana cows (a local breed) and aged for a year to develop its salty, floral tang and pink peppercorn–like finish. Scarce in southern Italy, blue cheeses are more common up north. The washed-rind Erboninato di Vacca is inoculated with Roquefort culture to achieve spiny blue veins and sweet-salty character—a fine pairing with an amaro. Many varieties hail from alpine pastures, like the semisoft Raschera made with raw milk in the mountainous province of Cuneo. We're fond of the earthy Raschera d'Alpeggio, a rare D.O.P. version made with cows' milk and aged four to six months.