Pecorino al Tartufo (Pinzani)
Caseficio Pinzani was founded in 1969 by Guido Pinzani, after a chance encounter with a retired cheesemaker and the opportunity to purchase an ancient small-scale dairy near Pontignano. The dairy, had long been associated with production of classic Sienese pecorino made from raw sheep’s milk, and was at the time (1972), the last remaining producer of the cheese. Since then the company has grown steadily and expanded under the guidance of Guido Pinzani. In 1975, the dairy moved to a new facility between San Gimignano and the imposing Volterra Cliffs. This location is much closer to the pastures where the sheep graze and also the milk source. Milk for production of Pecorino al Tartufo is raw and comes from Sardinian sheep, a breed noted for their milk quality. The sheep are grazed on pasture from Spring until Autumn and, during the summer months, the shepherds make several cuts of hay from the same pastures to augment the sheep’s diet during the winter months. They are never fed silage. For production, the milk is warmed to between 86-98?F (30-37?C) and rennet is added. Coagulation takes place within 30-40 minutes after which the curd is cut, the size of the curd being crucial in terms of determining the texture of the finished cheese since a softer texture is preferred. They whey is drained off and small slivers of white and black truffles are added to the curd. The truffles are sourced from the area between Volterra and San Miniato. The curd is ladled into molds and pressed before being allowed to rest in a warm room. The following day, the newly formed cheeses are dry salted and transferred to aging caves where they will mature for at least 60 days before release. Pinzani’s Pecorino al Tartufo has a semi-soft texture and ivory colored paste, dotted with pieces of sliced truffle. Flavors are rich, buttery and sheepy, with a hint of lanolin, distinct flavors of truffle with undertones of earth and fungus. Pecorino al Tartufo pairs well with a Chianti, Barolo or similar red wine and especially with cured meats made from wild boar or pork.