The mountains of Aosta Valley: the perfect "terroir" to give birth to Fontina PDO
Fontina PDO is an artisanal product that originates in the mountainous territory of Aosta Valley, a regulated production area with unique characteristics.
The Aosta Valley is the mountain territory par excellence, with just 20% of its surface area below 1,500 metres. Its history goes back thousands of years: the majesty of its peaks, many of which are over 4,000 metres, made it first an impenetrable barrier in defence of Rome, then a communication hub with the countries beyond the Alps and then a crossroads of communication, trade, culture and ideas.
The mountains have always provided man with quality raw materials, both vegetable and animal, on which to base his livelihood and to practice, over the centuries, activities centred on rearing and milk processing.
From the characteristics of a territory to a unique cheese
The geographic and climatic peculiarities of the Aosta Valley make it the perfect place for the production of a cheese with distinctive characteristics. The secret is the quality of milk, which depends on the cattle breeds that are raised, the feeding of animals, and the land and climate characteristics.
Aosta Valley can boast an extraordinary botanical richness. More than 100 different species can be found in the meadows and pastures, including orchard grass, white clover, sainfoin, ambrette, wild chervil and many others, while the mountain pastures are home to a variety of vegetation rich in highland species. The unique characteristics of this territory make all the difference: acting as a barrier, the Alps contribute to the typically endo-Alpine climate and favour the presence of unique forage, which makes the aroma and flavour of Fontina PDO particular and inimitable.
The selection of cattle in the Aosta Valley mountains
Over the centuries, the mountains of the Aosta Valley have become the ideal environment in which to raise dairy cows: Valdostana Pezzata Rossa, Valdostana Pezzata Nera and Castana. (**LINK INTERNO A PAGINA “LA PEZZATA”**).
The people of Aosta Valley have progressively selected the breeds that are able to live in uneasy conditions (climatic and orographic). The animals that today graze at high altitudes, in the mountain pastures of Aosta Valley, are the descendants of this selection and have particular characteristics, such as a great locomotor capacity even on steep slopes, as well as being very resistant to the difficult climatic conditions of the Alpine mountains. The Specification for Fontina PDO therefore states that the milk must be produced in Aosta Valley and come exclusively from cows of the Valdostana breed, fed on local fodder.