Formatge Blau del Net
Brothers Toni and Robert Camps founded Formatges Camps in 2000 near Lleida, Spain, to diversify their family’s agricultural business, and to focus on the artisanal production of sheep and goat cheeses.
In Spain, many traditional cheeses enjoy Denominación de Origen status, but most are from outside Catalonia. “In Catalonia there’s no typical cheese,” says Robert, “so cheesemakers here try to make original and different cheeses from what is on the market.” There had never been a blue cheese from Catalonia until 20 years ago; Robert and Toni’s goat-milk version was the second, and Blau del Nèt, their award-winning sheep’s milk version, is the third.
The Camps brothers, now making 12 different cheeses, are at the forefront of a diversification of the region’s cuisine. “Now in Catalonia there is a range of cheese so varied,” says Robert, “I believe that the Catalan cheesemakers have no reason to envy the famous French!”
The firm cheese is made from raw ewe’s milk inoculated with Penicillium roqueforti spores, which produce a greenish-blue mold that flourishes in air channels the brothers create. After a month in cellars, the wheels are wrapped in foil and ripened in cool storage for at least another month.
A buttery-textured cheese with a natural rind and delicate blue veins of mold, Blau del Nèt has a creamy taste that’s slightly spicy, but that lacks the itching pungency of some blue cheeses. “It’s suitable for those who fear the blue cheese,” says Robert, “and who want to learn them.”
Pair it with a Riesling or a Merlot.