During the 2021 International Cheese Festival, an online charity auction of a 21-year-old wheel of Parmigiano Reggiano—one of the oldest edible cheeses in the world—took place. The festival was held in Oviedo, Spain from November 3-6.
The auction, which was open to the public and hosted through the fundraising platform, Givergy, opened on October 27 and closed on November 6. The winner requested to remain anonymous.
The wheel of Parmigiano Reggiano is one of the first of its kind. The minimum maturation period of a Parmigiano Reggiano wheel is 12 months, after which every individual wheel is quality-checked by a member of the Consortium. However, no maximum age has ever been set, with 24-, 36-, 40- and 48-month-old Parmigiano Reggiano widely available for purchase. As every age acquires unexpected and unparalleled aromas and flavors, a 21-year-old wheel of cheese is expected to be amber straw yellow with an intense toasted smell. The aromatic analysis should highlight typical leather, underwood, truffle and smoky notes. The cheese most likely has a special structure: dry, very crumbly and soluble.
The cheese wheel was produced in April 2000 by the Latteria di Tabiano dairy when it was under the leadership of the late Erio Bertani. It was one of the first wheels of Parmigiano Reggiano to be awarded the prestigious “Quality of the Mountain” status by the Conva Consortium, which is responsible for the safeguarding and promotion of products from the Apennines. The wheel was then purchased by Bertani, who kept it in his warehouse until 2018, when his wife, Susetta Sforacchi, children and the Nazionale Parmigiano Reggiano (Parmigiano Reggiano National Team) decided to donate it to charity in his memory.
All proceeds from the auction will be donated to two solidarity projects that are close to the heart of the Parmigiano Reggiano Consortium: Aiutiamo il mondo di Padre Marco Canovi (“Let’s help the world by Father Marco Canovi”) and Mama Sofia, founded by Zakaria Seddiki, wife of the late ambassador to Congo, Luca Attanasio. The latter initiative is directly supported by La Forma Del Cuore (“The shape of the heart”).
Proceeds from the auction donated to Father Canovi’s non-profit group will help to build a pediatric medical center in the Apeitolim, which is already underway with construction to be completed by 2022. Father Marco Canovi has dedicated his life to humanitarian work in Uganda, where he helped build Matany Hospital and its corresponding Nursing and Midwife School. He also has built both primary and secondary schools in the region
Proceeds from the auction donated to La Forma del Cuore will support the Mama Sofia Medical Centre—the first medical center dedicated to combatting malnutrition in Boma. The center will guarantee medical support for at least 100 children every year. The cheese wheel was on display at the International Cheese Festival and World Cheese Awards.