How our original creation incorporates Manchego’s rich history
Meet Murray’s Cavemaster Labs La Mancha! The first Spanish cheese to come from our Caves, this raw milk Manchego was brought over to us straight from the land its named for. With special care from our Caves team, it’s rubbed in Murray’s Arbequina Olive Oil and aged for a year until it reaches its peak profile: herbal sweetness and a light, buttery essence.
Born in Toledo and treated in New York City, this original creation is a blend of classic Spanish tradition and modern American cheesemaking. While the use of olive oil during the aging process sets this Cavemaster apart from its overseas sibling in terms of flavor profile and D.O.P. regulations, its technical purpose is for preservation–a simple method of helping the cheese to develop its natural rind.
Manchego, the base and inspiration for our La Mancha, is one of the world’s best known cheeses, but what makes it so special? Let’s take a quick look at its unique qualities and historical significance:
- P.D.O Designation: Recognized and protected under Spain’s denominación de origen classification, this means that all cheese called Manchego must be, by law: Made in the La Mancha region of Spain, made from the whole milk of Manchego sheep, and aged for at least 60 days and no longer than 2 years.
- Identifiers: Manchego cheese can range in color from ivory to a darker yellow, and is known for its firm, almost granular paste and toast-colored rind. Like other sheep cheeses, when left out for an extended period of time, Manchego will start to “sweat” or develop a slight sheen, making it easy to identify on a cheese plate.
- Fun Facts: The rind of Manchego has signature pattern that looks like a woven basket. Some scholars trace cheese making in La Mancha back to the Bronze Age, but in early years when Manchego was being crafted, farmers used esparto grass baskets to hold the shape of the cheese, giving it a woven pattern on the rind. Today, makers will re-create the pattern as a nod to Manchego’s early traditions.
Because our version of this Spanish classic has a slightly sweeter, more herbal profile than the traditionally savory Manchego, we suggest pairing it with anything light, bright, and delicate, from fresh olives to Jamón Serrano to a glass of crisp Txakoli or Albariño–anything that evokes La Mancha’s Mediterranean roots.
Want to learn more about the cheeses that come from our Caves? Take a look at where the magic happens and how we craft these original favorites here.