Produced near the town of Appenzell in northeastern Switzerland, Appenzeller is made from cow's milk and has a history dating back more than 700 years. Appenzeller is a wonderful example of traditional, Swiss mountain cheesemaking at its best.
There are now just three local cooperative dairies producing Appenzeller, and milk comes exclusively from the Simmenthaler breed of cow. Traditionally cheeses were only made using raw milk, however, the rules have become less stringent and now some dairies prefer to pasteurize.
As with many Swiss mountain cheeses, once the curd is formed and cut, it is then reheated to a higher temperature to expel more whey from the solids, forming smaller pieces of curd in the process. The curd is then pressed while still in the vat, submerged under the whey before being transferred to molds for further pressing. After unmolding, wheels are moved to the maturing rooms where they are aged for 7-12 months.
One of the distinctive steps in the maturing process of Appenzeller is that the young cheeses are regularly washed in a special solution of white wine, herbs, spices and occasionally herb brandy. This contributes greatly to the development of the rind and the flavor of the cheese.
The texture of Appenzeller is firm, supple and very smooth, dotted with occasional holes or "eyes." The interior paste is ivory-white in color.
Flavors are incredibly robust, rich and complex, including herbaceous, savory notes of flowers and grasses, accompanied by a rich, mineral tang. The sweetness of the milk provides a balance to all this, but the finish on the palate is long and memorable.