It’s that time of year when we fall back in love with L’Etivaz, a hard Swiss cheese reminiscent of Gruyere, but creamer, nuttier, and mostly available only in the late fall and winter months.
L’Etivaz is produced by cheesemakers after our own hearts: uncompromising in their methods that render their cheese so superior. It originated in the 1930s when a group of Gruyere producers in the Swiss Alps were disillusioned with the government’s easing of regulations around Gruyere production. They then seceded to produce their own cheese, L’Etivaz, named after their village.
The end result is Gruyere as it was produced a century ago—made in copper cauldrons, only with summer milk, and aged a minimum of five months. The flavor is similar to Gruyere, only less sharp, and has the nuttiness of aged Gouda with little crystals of calcium lactate.
It sings with a variety of medium-bodied red wines such as Barbera d’Alba, pinot noir, or a full-bodied Beaujolais. It also pairs beautifully with whites, such as an off-dry Riesling or Chenin Blanc. Serve with crusty bread, figs, pears, dates, raisins, and Marcona almonds.
Purchasing L’Etivaz The best L’Etivaz is aged a full two years, but it is wonderful even after five months of aging and far more prevalent. Nonetheless, it is tricky to find even when in season.
Here are some of this season’s sources for L’Etivaz: