Photo by Luis Carrè / icex
If you thought $30 for a pound of blue cheese was expensive, wait till you hear how much this Spanish blue cheese just sold for.
Clocking in at $6,682 per pound, a wheel of Cabrales blue cheese from northern Spain earned the title of the world’s most expensive cheese after a 2.2 kg (4.85 lb) wheel was sold at auction for €30,000 ($32,408.10).
The auction took place at the 51st annual Cabrales Cheese Competition held in the Principality of Asturias. Bidding started at €3,000 and quickly rose as passionate turophiles battled for the right to own the first-place cheese.
In the end, restauranteur Iván Suárez won the prized wheel. Suárez told Spanish news outlet EFE that “the passion for the land” and “recognizing the work of all the cheesemakers” made him buy the cheese.
Suarez broke his own record for the most expensive cheese ever purchased. In 2019 he bought a wheel of Cabrales for €20,500.
Cabrales is a Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) produced in Asturias. A strong, blue-veined cheese with a creamy, firm texture, it can be made from unpasteurized cow’s milk or blended with sheep’s and goat’s milk. Aged in limestone caves, Cabrales used to be wrapped in sycamore leaves, but is now sold in foil.
The winning wheel was made by Guillermo Pendás at his family’s Los Puertos factory. “We knew we had a good cheese but also that it is very difficult to win,” Pendás told EFE.
Rosa Vada, Pendás’ mother and the owner of Los Puertos, said the winning cheese had been aged in a 1,400-meter-high (4,593 feet) cave at 7C (44.6F) for a minimum of eight months.
Vada said this particular cave is located in a town called Póo [high place] de Cabrales. “The town is so small they don’t name the streets so it’s “best to ask” for directions,” he says.
Cabrales is one of the more than forty different artisanal cheeses—four under Protected Designation of Origin (PDO)—produced in Asturias. An impressive number considering the area is smaller than the state of Connecticut.
Want to read more about cheesemaking in the Asturias region? In 2021, culture contributor Mónica Goya traveled to “Green Spain” to learn about the new generation of young cheesemakers bringing life to an industry with ancient roots. Read the story here.