Produced at Fromagerie des Chaumes at Mauléon, in southwestern France, Etorki, which means "origin" in local dialect, is a Basque-style sheep's milk cheese.
Milk comes from the native, local, black- or red-faced Manech ewes, and is sourced from flocks local shepherds and dairy farmers. The Manech sheep have lived in the region for centuries and produce very high quality milk that is ideal for cheesemaking. It takes a total of six gallons of milk to produce just one wheel of Etorki.
During the milking season, milk goes directly to the factory for cheesemaking. However, the shepherds still keep their hand in by making small quantities of their own cheese from the uncollected milk before and after the factory season.
Production of Etorki requires the curds to be pressed but not cooked. After unmolding, cheeses are placed in a brine solution for two hours before being dried and dry salted several times during the first week. Cheeses produced at the factory are then vacuum-packed and matured at a low temperature (39°F) in order to produce a slow maturation for a period of three to six months.
The texture of Etorki is smooth, supple and velvety. The color of the interior paste is a gentle, golden, ivory and there are occasional holes or slits. Aromas are earthy and sweet. Flavors are rich and sweet with notes of hazelnut and caramel, and the cheese is voluptuous on the tongue.
Pair it with a rich red wine, a chardonnay, or a young muscat.