Maybe this post should have come at the start of the series ‘From Ewe to You’ when we followed the local farmers out onto that pastures of the island (To view the series from the start just click here). Its omission from the blog so far is by no means an admission that terroir is not important. Quite the opposite is true in fact as the unique terroir of the island truly does imbues itself into the taste of Sirana Gligora Paški Sir.
So what is terroir exactly?
It might be no surprise to hear that the term terroir was first coined in France during the 14th century and is derived from the French word ‘terre’ meaning land. Terroir is the belief that the land, environment, farming techniques, climate, and the producer each have a unique and combined effect upon the taste of the product that they are making. Applied to French wines, coffees and teas in the late 1800s as a marketing tool, the concept eventually spread to include cheese. The term also lead to the creation of the appellation systems in the EU which protect particular products from certain areas with a Protection of Designated Origin, or PDO as it is commonly known. Under the PDO, you can’t make a sheep milk cheese and call it Mancheago unless it has been produced in the La Mancha region of Spain and is produced along the strict guidelines of the PDO. Similarly you can’t make a sparkling wine from outside Champagne in France and give it the same illustrious name.
Terroir has been described as “the impact of the environment on flavour” by the Frenchman Ivan Larcher, who is a consultant to cheese makers. He believes that terroir can not be created, “It is something you ‘get’, it’s what you are and it’s what you do. Terroir is the result of humans, practices, heritage, landscape and the direct influence of the microbiological ecosystem of the area. When you apply this same philosophy to the Island of Pag and the ancient practice of cheese making, you can quickly see how such a concept is proven in reality. You can read about the terroir on the Island of Pag in more detail here.
With a clearly defined geographical border, insular traditions and husbandry practices by humans spanning hundreds of years, a breed of animal which has become indigenous to the island and has evolved with the demands of the unique micro climate and hardy plant life, we have perfect and unique conditions on the island that can’t be created by design.
The traditional practices of sheep breeding, milking and cheese making on the Island of Pag go back some 1500 years. During which time the microbiological ecosystem has been evolving to the point where today it gives a high level protein and butter fat sheep milk. Which incidentally, is superb for making cheese as its these proteins and butterfat that breakdown to form the curds.
The result? A truly high class cheese.
So you can now begin to see how the environment effects the taste and quality of cheese from the Island of Pag and of course the production plays its part too. To see the step-by-step guide to making artisan cheese at Sirana Gligora click here.
Meanwhile, Paški Sir 052272 continues to mature and slowly turns from white to a pale yellow under the expert guidance of the affinures at Sirana Gligora. One lucky reader will win this full wheel of Paški Sir when its fully matured so to be in with a chance make sure you subscribe to this blog at the top right of the page and follow us on Facebook.
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- Artisan Cheese, the making of Sirana Gligora Paški Sir (paskisir.wordpress.com)
- From Ewe to You – Does Paški Sir cheese age like a fine wine? (paskisir.wordpress.com)
- Triple Super Gold at the World Cheese Awards for Sirana Gligora Paški Sir (paskisir.wordpress.com)
- Artisan Cheese, the making of Sirana Gligora Paški Sir 1. Setting the milk (paskisir.wordpress.com)
- The health benefits of sheep milk from the Island of Pag (paskisir.wordpress.com)