Estrema means extreme, exceptional, outstanding. Because it is only producted over 2000 meters. Only four weeks per year. Only feeding cows with pasture grass
The new limit of Fontina DOP, to shake up the market, but also people awareness: if we don’t do something today, we will lose these products.
Because it is unprofitable to produce them and it is unprofitable also to sell them, since production is too limited.
Because nobody wants to live up there anymore and nobody wants to do this job anymore.
We can find different names, all around Italy: extreme, rebel, product by shepherds.
Places change: from the Alps to the Apennines to the islands, but there is a fil rouge that ties all these projects: the courage to go against market rules, to bring back products that are part of the identity of a place and that can help to preserve a territory, keeping traditions alive.
The project “Estrema d’Alpeggio Fontina DOP” was born in 2016 thanks to ARPAV - the regional association of mountain pastures owners - and thanks to the availability of the regional funds of Aosta Valley.
The project is aimed to enhance the production of Fontina PDO above 2000 meters above sea level, and at the same time protecting and caring for mountain pastures and supporting the regional agricultural and livestock system.
Estrema d’Alpeggio is the highest excellence in Europe: the areas involved are those between 2,000 and 2,700 meters and the selected breeders are only those who, during the summer alpage feed the cows - three native Aosta Valley breeds: pezzata rossa, pezzata nera e castana - in a totally natural way, that is, only with grass and water, without any other integration
Precisely for this reason, production is extremely limited: three, maximum four weeks a year, in July.
THE PRODUCTION METHOD BY ARPAV
The production regulation of Estrema d’Alpeggio Fontina DOP is much stricter than the classic Fontina DOP disciplinary.
It is a semi-cooked curd, full-fat cheese, produced with whole raw milk from a single milking obtained from cows of the Valdostana breed (Pezzata rossa, Pezzata nera, Castana), fed exclusively on pasture at high altitude, rich in omega3, which is obtained according to very strict criteria:
1. production in high mountain pastures between 2.000 and 2.700 meters hight
2. feeding cows exclusively on pasture without any integration;
3. vegetative analysis of grazed areas;
4. indication of the original pastures
“Feeding cows only with grass - explains Andrea Menegazzi, creator and coordinator of the Estrema d’Alpeggio Fontina DOP project - without integrating with other feed, guarantees additional quality to the milk. Thanks to the richness of pastures of these areas we can produce a really tasty Fontina, with the characteristics of sweetness, softness and elasticity that are required for this cheese. Clearly also the touch of the cheesemaker is very important: this is why “Estrema d’Alpeggio Fontina DOP” combines the quality of the pastures and the experience of cheesemakers who have been producing Fontina for years“.
At the moment only four cheese-makers are involved in the project, with a production of 430 wheels in 2020
But the target is to engage around twenty producers in the next three years, to reach a production of 3,000 wheels.
Good luck! We really hope they’ll reach their goal and we’ll try to do our best to help them.