Piave PDO is a hard, cooked-curd cheese with a compact texture and an elastic structure that crumbles easily with ageing. At least 80% of the milk is produced by breeds of cattle typical of the production zone: Bruna Italiana (Italian Brown), Pezzata Rossa Italiana (Italian Red Spotted) and Frisona italiana (Italian Friesian or Holstein).
Type of milk: Cow.
Production Area: Piave PDO is produced only in the Province of Belluno in the region of Veneto. The milk used for the production of Piave PDO comes exclusively from the province of Belluno, in an area bordering the Dolomite Mountains National Park. The objectively demanding conditions of this territory, as compared to farming in the plains, force to the adoption of farming models that must take into account several factors, such as grazing in the high mountain pastures only during the summer due to the snow in winter, environmental constraints arising from living in or around a protected Park. So the produced milk has unique characteristics, which creates a cheese with a likewise distinctive taste.
Appearance and Taste: Mild in its younger aging, the flavor of Piave PDO increases every day as the ripening progresses, becoming more intense over time. The more advanced aging cheese has a fruity, rich taste, with a lasting persistence on the palate, yet without ever getting pungent. It is produced in the typologies: Fresco (fresh), Mezzano (medium), Vecchio (aged), Vecchio Selezione Oro and Vecchio Riserva.
Origins: Dairy production in the Province of Belluno (in the region of Veneto) took place at the same time as the decline of the Most Serene Republic of Venice, when the local economy needed a valid alternative to the exploitation of natural forest resources. In the second half of the XIX century, the crisis caused by the degradation of the mountain areas led to the establishment of the first social milk cooperatives, which aimed to reduce production costs.
Production: Even at least 70% of the forage the cows eat must come from the area of production. Milk and whey serum, which are produced from raw milk or the whey obtained during processing, are added to the milk. It is then curdled, with the addition of rennet, after which the curd is cooked and put in molds for shaping. The form is pressed with the use of hydraulic pumps for about 40 minutes. The cheese is then wrapped in cloths and placed on special frames, where it’s left for 12 hours. After salting, the cheese is stored in rooms in order to season: the maturation period can be from 20 days to 12 months.
Gastronomy: Piave PDO is a great table cheese but it’s also a key ingredient for traditional dishes of the Veneto Region, such as “formai frit”, that consists in frying the cheese in order to be eaten with polenta. Rich in calcium, phosphorus and high-value proteins (50 grams or 1.8 ounces equal to a fish or meat dish), Piave PDO is easy to digest thanks to the lipolytic and proteolytic milk enzymes, which “predigest” fats and proteins during the ripening process. It should be stored in a cool dry place. Suggested Wine Pairings: Amarone