A Tour of Switzerland - Le Gruyère AOP and the Canton of Fribourg
Located in the west of Switzerland, connecting the Jura and the Swiss Alps, the canton of Friborg is a paradise for lovers of nature and hiking. The canton inherits from its late industrialization preserved and practically virgin landscapes of modern construction, 88% of its surface is devoted to agriculture and forestry. To the south, the Friborg mountains offer a sublime setting for summer or winter sports activities. To the north, the parts of the canton enclosed within the canton of Vaud, skirt the magnificent Lake Neuchâtel which hosted Rousseau's walks.
Walking through the streets of the old town of Fribourg is to have found a time machine! You must have wandered on an adventure along its network of cobbled streets, admired the many Gothic houses that line them, and refreshed yourself by one of the city's 13th century fountains, to understand why Fribourg is considered the most beautiful city in Switzerland. But it is undoubtedly the Saint-Nicolas Cathedral, built between 1283 and 1490, with its 250ft high frontal tower, which is the city's most impressive monument. The fortifications of Fribourg are also remarkable, they form the most important set of medieval military architecture in Switzerland.
The Charming Village of Gruyères
It is here, in the heart of the Alps, that Le Gruyère AOP was born. The village of Gruyères (note the final "s") has retained its authenticity and friendliness. Its traditional architecture is exceptionally preserved. Under no circumstances should you miss its Saint Théodule church, nor its castle which has 8 centuries of history. La Maison du Gruyère will wet your appetite and tell you all about the history and making of Le Gruyère AOP!
The bredzon, the Traditional Male Costume
It is at all the ceremonies, all the feasts ... At the stable, at the market, at midnight mass ... The bredzon is the symbol of belonging to Gruyère and to the peasant class. Initially it is a work garment, that of the armailli, the shepherd of the Swiss Alps. Traditionally this one carries, in addition to the Bredzon, the capet, the beautiful loyi (leather satchel) and the cane in his hand. But today it is above all a ceremonial garment symbolizing a whole people proud of their land roots.
Le Gruyère AOP was born at the beginning of the 2nd millennium. Its large millstones were used to store milk and provide protein during the winter. The first written mention of this cooked pressed cheese dates from 1115: in a charter, Count Guillaume de Gruyères assures us that the monks of the priory of Rougemont will receive their wheels of “fatty cheeses” every year. The peasants of the region then pay their taxes in grindstones of Gruyère. During the Renaissance, cheese began to be eaten on Italian, Lyon and Parisian tables. The first trade protection measures were taken in the 17th century! In 1856, at the agricultural competition in Paris, two exhibitors from Fribourg obtained gold medals for their Gruyères, qualified as "best in the world" by a member of the jury and also "excellent products from Fribourg cows". It was the start of a worldwide success, especially in the English and Dutch colonies, which has continued to this day!
Today, Le Gruyère AOP is still handcrafted in French-speaking Switzerland. The cheese makers remain faithful to the centuries-old tradition and to the specifications of the Protected Designation of Origin obtained in 2001, to manufacture these imposing wheels of around 77lbs.
It takes over 100 gallons of raw milk to make a wheel. The cows are fed fresh grass in the summer and hay in the winter. The use of any additive is prohibited. During the long maturation process, the millstones are turned over several times and rubbed with salt water. The humidity allows the formation of a fatty layer on the rind which accelerates the ripening. This is what gives Le Gruyère AOP its unique flavor. The protected designation of origin (AOP) guarantees that the cheese sold is a Le Gruyère AOP produced in accordance with the quality requirements imposed by the specifications.
Le Gruyère AOP comes in several types, depending on the length of aging and the place of production: there is something for everyone!
Le Gruyère AOP Classic
It is the most tender of Swiss Gruyère AOP, it offers a fine and aromatic taste after 5 to 8 months of ripening.
Le Gruyère AOP Réserve
It undergoes an exceptional refining of at least 10 months, which gives it a distinctive taste.
Le Gruyère d’Alpage AOP
This Gruyère has an even more marked aromatic taste, a fine bouquet from high pastures (maturing from 5 to 18 months). For the record, we have continued to make it since the 12th century, in charming and authentic chalets perched at the top of the mountain pastures.