Asiago DOP is a famous cheese made in the lovely Asiago's Altopiano dei Sette Comuni, a vast area north of Vicenza spanning to the province of Trento through the plateaus of Lavarone and Folgaria. It is a land characterized by high mountains, in fact it is a renowned ski area, as well as gentle hills in the center, where the towns are located, and where a fertile and rich in water land breeds exceptional products: Vezzena and Tosella cheeses, Rotzo potatoes, Rubbio celery, honey and mushrooms. The Asiago production takes place during the summer in many dairies, in the time of spontaneous growth of weeds, and in the rustic malghe (there are more than 100 in the Atlopiano dei Sette comuni). Today, the production specifications prescribes the use of cow milk exclusively, but in ancient times, dating back to 1000 AD, sheep milk was used as well: form 1500 on, the breeding of cows replaced sheeps, which had a damaging way of grazing. They rip the grass off the ground with the roots, making landslides a concrete risk.
Asiago DOP is made in two kinds: Stagionato and Fresco (Aged and Fresh). If it is made above 600 m it can be labeled "Prodotto della Montagna" (Mountain Product).
Asiago Stagionato, also called d'Allevo, is the most ancient one and it is made with partially skimmed milk. It has a strong taste which varies according to the aging, which spans from 3 to 12 months becoming more and more aromatic until it gains a piquant note. Aged red wines such as Cannonau or Cabernet Colli Berici are the perfect match for it.
Asiago Fresco, also called Asiago Pressato (the wheels of cheese are put under a weight to drain the watery part) is made with whole milk and it features a more delicate taste, sweet with a bit of sour, and a scent reminding of butter. Light and fresh white or rosè wines such as Vernaccia di San Gimignano and Soave are the perfect match.
Asiago DOP has various uses : it is great as an appetizer, and perfect in soups, fondues and risottos.