The production area comprises the seven municipal districts – Uztarroz, lsaba, Urzainqui, Roncal, Garde, Vidangoz and Burgui – which form the Roncal Valley, in Navarre. The milk for making the Roncal cheese comes from the Rasa and Latxa sheep breeds in Navarre. Also included in the production area are the districts used for migratory herding for the sheep covered by the PDO.
The milk used for this cheese must contain neither colostrum nor drugs that might have a negative effect on cheese production, ripening and preservation. It must be whole, clean, free from preservatives of any type and have a balanced fat and protein content in line with the seasonal characteristics of the milk from the authorized breeds, so that the final product has at least 45% fat content. And it must be kept at under 10ºC (50ºF) to prevent the development of microbes.
Cheese production begins with coagulation of the milk using the exact dose of natural rennet to ensure that the liquid milk forms solids in 30-60 minutes. The temperature for coagulation, cutting and draining should be 30-37ºC (86-98ºF).
The curds are then cut slowly, to the size of rice grains. The mixture is beaten by hand to separate the whey from the curds, which are then cut into blocks.
They are then transferred to molds lined with a cloth to facilitate draining. The cheese is then pressed either by hand in the mold or in a press, to complete the removal of the whey and give the cheese its final shape so that the rind can form.
The salting process can either be done by hand using dry salt, or the cheese can be submerged in brine for a maximum of 48 hours.Finally, the cheese is ripened in the first ripening chamber at 12ºC (53ºF) for 40 days, then for about two months in a second chamber at 7ºC (44.6ºF) with lower humidity.
The whole ripening process must last no less than four months, starting from the end of salting and, during it, the cheese must be turned and cleaned as required to give it its special characteristics.
A pleasant, intense aroma. The flavor is strong, pronounced, slightly piquant, well-defined and buttery on the palate, with a blend of well-developed, sheelp´s milk flavors and a persistent aftertaste.
Cylindrical in shape, with two flat sides. 8-12 cm (4.7”) high, with varying diameter and a weight of 1-3 kgs (2.2 -6.6 lb). The rind is natural, hard, thick, rough, greasy, light brown or straw-colored and may, or may not, have mold. When cut, the paste is an ivory-white to pale yellow color and hard. It has pores but no holes. The fat content may be no less than 45% and humidity 40% of dry matter.
– Spanish Ministry of Agriculture
– Regulatory Council, Roncal PDO
Consejo Regulador de la DOP Roncal
Avda. Serapio Huici, 22
31610 Villava (Navarra)
Tel: (+34) 948 013 045
Fax: (+34) 948 071 549