The name Raclette derives from the French "racler," meaning to scrape. Raclette cheeses are traditionally produced in four different valleys in the Canton of Valais. The best ones are acknowledged to come from the Bagnes Valley (Val de Bagner) around Verbier, and one of the benchmark cheeses is produced by Dairy 98 and ripened by Rolf Beeler.
One of the keys to this cheese's superiority is that it's made from the milk of two breeds of cow: the Fribourgeois (which also produce the milk for Vacherin), and the Ehringer (or Heren in French), a large, heritage German breed cow that produces a small quantity of milk that is very high quality.
Raclette is an uncooked, washed rind mountain cheese that is aged for up to a year.
The paste is silky and semifirm, with a light aroma of earth and cellars when warm. It has a full, milky flavor.
Traditionally a half wheel of Raclette would be propped up in front of the fireplace, exposing the cut surface to the heat. Once the smooth interior had begun to soften and blister, with the aid of a "racleur" (scraper), the cheese would flow like lava into waiting bowls of steaming, boiled potatoes.
Intensified by the heat, the cheese oozes flavors that are sweet, tangy and slightly fruity, overlaid with an assertive bite with more aged wheels.