Three generations of the Cora family (who are leaf wrappers) work with affineur and entrepreneur Gianni Cora in the Piedmont region to make artisanal Italian cheeses. Their specialty are soft-ripened robiola-style cheeses which are usually leaf-wrapped, using chestnut, cherry, fig or grape, walnut or even cabbage leaves.
Robiola di Castagna (or Robiola Castagna) comes from the (Langhe). It is an artisan goat and sheep's milk robiola about 2 weeks old which is wrapped in chestnut leaves. The small wheel is about 5" in diameter and when it is about 30 days old it's ready to eat. When young, the cheese is chalky but as it ages longer it will become more gooey. It'a a relatively mild cheese with a fresh creamy flavor enhanced by the leaves. Smelling the chestnut leaves should elicit forest-y, earthy scents and should give a pleasant slightly sweet fragrance.
Robiola is a soft ripened seasonal cheese from Piedmont with either no rind or a very thin rind. It is usually made from mixed milk. The cheese is sweet, creamy and rich. It is often runny at room temperature.
Leaf-wrapped cheeses are delicate and leaf wrapping also imparts wonderful flavor to the cheese as well as makes it easier to judge a cheese's condition. If the leaves are dried-out or brittle, or the leaf package is shrunken in parts or shriveled, or if the leaves are seeping – avoid the cheese.
Joanne’s Tasting Notes: The thin rind (it almost has no rind) is soft, delicate and pliable. There is a slightly gold cast to the rind with veining from the leaves. The center is very white with a chalky appearance. A gooey cheese at room temp. It smells of wet wool and freshly wet leaves. The center is very creamy with a salty tang on the finish but smooth - the goat balanced with the sheep gives a hint of animal but a fresh flavor. The flavor of the chestnut leaves is present throughout, adding a bit of sweetness. Pate has a faint bit of grainyness but is quite smooth and has a slight firmness and then it melts away. A tiny bit of bitterness near the rind is nicely balanced by the earthy chestnut leaf flavor.
Where to buy it:
We purchased this cheese from Dean & Deluca (the label shown above is mislabeled as "Roccaverano" instead of Castagna).
A current online source for it is: Artisanal Cheese in New York. Formaggio Kitchen in Boston also carries Cora cheeses.
Wine & Cheese Pairing: Try pairing it with a Pinot Grigio from Friuli, a fruity Sauvignon Blanc,
a Barbera, or fruity Pinot Noir.