Many times we are asked how to be able to recognize a real mountain pasture fontina from a winter fontina, a few rules that can help us recognize it
Let's start by talking about what differences there are between the two types of Fontina:
the winter Fontina is produced in the stable using the hay that is collected during the summer season, it usually comes from pastures and meadows that are not at very high altitude, in the case of our valley it is collected from the bottom of the valley 700m up to Rhêmes-Notre -Dame 1725m.
Alpine Fontina, on the other hand, is produced in high altitude pastures only during the summer season, from June to September, usually found between 1800m and 2800m.
The big difference is given by the type of flowers and herbs, as with wine, the mountain pastures also have an enormous variety of microclimates and terroirs. The conformation of the mountains in the Aosta Valley means that between mountain pastures that are perhaps even just a few meters away, the type of flowering completely changes, consequently two completely different flavors are obtained.
How to recognize it?
- we take into account the period in which we buy it
if we want to buy a real mountain pasture Fontina we must take into account its maturation period, to have a Fontina that already has the right consistency and the right maturation point it takes 3 months of maturation. If we find ourselves in a mountain pasture in June or July and we are offered a Fontina that is already ready, it means that it is not truly from the mountain pastures, in fact it starts to be found from mid-August.
- let's look at the CTF code
the CTF code gives us the possibility of knowing exactly in which mountain pasture the Fontina was produced; in order to obtain the marking, each company must affix it to the cheese when the wheel is created.
By clicking on this link you can get the list of manufacturers.
- the price
more than a tool to understand whether a Fontina is truly from mountain pastures or not, the price is an ethical question. To produce a Fontina cheese 100 liters of milk are needed, if we add heroic agriculture and production costs we realize that it is not sustainable for farmers to be paid €5/kg. Unfortunately we have realized that cheese is underpaid and in doing so there is a risk that, by not being able to have a good salary, companies decide not to put much effort into production to the detriment of quality. As a shop we have proposed to the farmer who supplies us with mountain cheeses to pay more, by doing so we can focus heavily on the quality of the product rather than the quantity.
How to protect ourselves from scams:
Even Fontina, like every Italian excellence, is a victim of fraud and scams. Unfortunately, even if we are on holiday in Valle D'Aosta and buy in a mountain pasture or in a shop, the risk of being scammed is just around the corner.
To recognize the real Fontina we observe :
The DOP mark
Fontina is a cheese with a Protected Designation of Origin. After at least 80 days of maturation we proceed with branding. The Fontina DOP brand is affixed with verification by Consortium technicians.
CTF code Manufacturer identification
The acronym “CTF” means Consorzio Tutela Fontina”. The molds bear the manufacturer's numerical identification code.
Progressive traceability guarantee number, from milk to wheel, applied on the white wheel.
The perfect Fontina to be regulated weighs between 7.5 and 12 kg, with a diameter between 35 and 45 cm and a height varying between
7 and 10 cm.
It is thin and compact, with a more or less intense brown color depending on the ripening conditions.
The consistency is elastic and soft, the discreet holes are dispersed in the shape, the color varies from ivory to more or less intense straw yellow.
For any report of counterfeiting, we invite you to contact the Fontina Producers Consortium