€5.18 – €17.25
- raw ewe
- 12-18 months
Manchego is made exclusively from the milk of Manchega sheep that graze the plains of La Mancha, a vast plateau more than 600 metres above sea level, located to the southeast of Madrid. The pattern on the top and bottom of the cheese is formed by the imprint left by the wooden boards which are still used to press the cheese. This Manchego Viejo matured at a minimum of 12 months, but which is often 12-18 months old. This is stronger, harder, and has more bite than its younger counter part.
Our Manchego is produced on the La Prudenciana farm by the Alvarez Valera Family, located in the core of La Mancha region, in Tembleque, Toledo.
Manchego is by far the best known Spanish cheese. Some critics, like Steven Jenkins, would even say that it has gained its reputation at the expense of other, finer Iberian cheeses. Nevertheless the fact remains that for most non-Spaniards Manchego remains the quintessential Spanish cheese. It even merits a mention in Cervantes’ ‘Don Quixote of La Mancha’.
Here the sheep feed on a mixture of wheat fields, fallow land and brush. The zigzag pattern found on the rind of this cheese was traditionally formed by the tough esparto grass moulds in which the cheese used to be pressed. Nowadays these moulds are more usually made of plastic but this zigzag exterior is still found on the rind of all Manchego to this day. The pattern on the top and bottom of the cheese is formed by the imprint left by the wooden boards which are still used to press the cheese. It should be noted that esparto moulds and wooden presses are used in the production of other Spanish cheeses, and that it is the regional nature of the cheese and exclusive use of milk from Manech ewes that sets Manchego apart.
Manchego is available at various stages of maturity; young and mild fresco( about two months); the semi-aged slightly piquant curado( up to one year); the extra mature anejo or viego( up to two years) and the indefinitely aged preserved Manchego wedges which are submerged in olive oil and jarred. At Sheridan’s our Manchego is semi-curado and is usually six to nine months old. It has a mild, slightly acidic flavour with subtle notes of nuts and dried hay.There are few finer, and more simple combinations than a plateful of freshly cut triangles of manchego and a good hunk of membrillo or quince paste. For the ultimate indulgence couple it with a Rioja.