Similar in many ways to the more famous Manchego, Zamorano was known as Manchego until the cheese was given its own recognized PDO (name protected) status. Named after Zamora, the principal city of its home region, the reason for the demarcation was to distinguish the differences between the two cheeses: Zamorano is made in the area around Castilla y León in the north-west of Spain, and must be produced using milk from the breeds of Churra and Castellana sheep, whereas Manchego comes from the Castile-La Mancha Region, southeast of Madrid and is made from the milk of Manchega sheep.
Zamorano is made seasonally from the end of the winter months through to the end of the summer. Cheeses are produced from raw milk and can be sold at several ages ranging from three months to one year. This particular version of Zamorano (pictured) is is aged six months and produced by Hijos de Salvador Rodriguez, who have been making cheese since 1947. Milk for production is sourced from the herds of local shepherds.
Churra and Castellana sheep are renowned for giving rich milk that’s high in fat and protein. These characteristics translate into flavors of underlying sweetness balanced with a lactic acidity and rich, buttery milky notes. With age, especially after six months, these become more pronounced and distinctive from other pressed sheep’s milk cheeses and its possible to taste and smell notes of lanolin, butterscotch, sweet cooked butter and dried fruits and nuts. The texture of Zamorano is firm and liberally scattered with holes or “eyes” that are fairly uniform in size. The interior paste, while pale ivory colored in young cheeses, develops and changes with age, becoming darker and more straw-like.
Pair it with a Tempranillo.