Gourmino Affinage & Selection’s
Le Gruyère AOP
Although it was the 2008 World Championship Cheese Contest that put Switzerland’s Gourmino Affinage & Selection’s Le Gruyère AOP on the map, cheesemaker Michael Spycher again was recognized as World Champion in 2020.
It’s no wonder this cheese has stood the test of time. The dairy it was created in was established in a small mountain village east of Bern, Switzerland back in 1847. At that time, only local cheeses were being made. Emmenthaler was added to the lineup in 1880, but it wasn’t until 1943 that Le Gruyère was added to the mix.
“That was one of the last years horse-drawn carriages were used to move cheeses to market,” says Joe Salonia, who heads Gourmino USA’s sales and marketing.
Between 1979 and 1981, the dairy constructed a smaller cheese cellar for ripening. Its equipment was updated and modernized in 2001, when Spycher joined the dairy and it became part of Gourmino. He currently lives there with his wife and four children, who all have a hand in running the cheese shop.
Gourmino’s Le Gruyère spends four months in the cellar and undergoes further ripening in humid conditions within bunkers fed by glacier-fed springs. These bunkers were acquired by the company from the Swiss government and refurbished in 2016.
“The bunkers are located by a riverbed, and the springs provide the humidity needed for ripening the cheese,” explains Salonia. “The climate does most of the work; it’s beautiful coincidences coming together timing wise, as the mountain bunker is an incredible environment.”
The attention to detail has obviously paid off. Gourmino’s Le Gruyère cheese displays tropical and stone fruit notes, along with almond milk.
“The peachy nut taste is obvious, along with a balance of salt and dulce de leche sweetness,” says Salonia. “There are expected notes of broth and sweet leeks, along with baked ham in there, too.”
He says pairings with this cheese are very subjective and recommends crisper, bubblier beverages, such as dry craft ciders that pick up many of the same flavor notes. “White wine or crisp, full-bodied Czech pilsners work, too,” Salonia says.