Roccolo is an unusual and complex cow’s milk washed rind cheese made by Arrigoni Valtaleggio. It takes its name from a cylindrical stone building located in Valle (Valtaleggio) region of Italy which is famous for it’s washed rind cheeses, like Taleggio and Brescinella. Roccolo is made with unpasteurized or pasteurized milk (the one we sampled was unpasteurized) from local brown alpine cows, and molded in large 5+ pound wheels. It then goes through a salt-water brining process and a 4 month ritual of turning and brine washing. Roccolo is aged about 6 months on pine boards in Arrigoni’s natural caves about 3000 ft above sea level. The long aging and brine washing gives Roccolo a rare complexity of flavors.
The result is a rather dense, smooth paste which graduates from a pale gold color near the rind to a white-gold toward the center. The soft creamy texture near the rind turns harder at the center and can be almost slightly dry. It is aromatic, with what some describe as a mushroom-like flavor with saltiness and a definite acidity.
The rind can develop colors and unusual scents from molds it acquired during aging. The rind itself is puckered and bumpy with striations which remind me of taleggio or brescianella’s rind. It not tell-tale orange of a washed rind cheese but rather gray brown with hints of yellows, oranges and whites.
Joanne’s Roccolo Tasting Notes:
Strong shellfish briny element to the nose – reminds me of cooked lobster and drawn butter. Definitely a clarified butter element and a richness suggested by the nose. The cheese has a pliability to it and is ivory in the center darkening to gold near the rind. The rind has some orange elements which remind of taleggio but with browns, yellows and whites. Mouth texture at center slightly crumbly but the clarified butter shellfish element is prominent and quite salty. Nearer the rind it is firmer and more rubbery with more flavors of mushrooms cooked in butter and cellar must. It is not grainy but rather smooth, despite it’s dry element. Roccolo really reminds me of the sea.It has great acidity showing on the finish and the salt lingers. A very complex and sexy cheese.
Jack's Roccolo Tasting Notes:
The aroma reminds him of "a kitchen two hours after bacon has been cooked in it." Moist texture. Cheese-like. Jack likes the flavors closer to the rind. Finds the cheese fairly dry and would like to have wine with it.
Wine to Pair with Roccolo:
Try Roccolo with a white wine such as a Sauvignon Blanc or White Burgundy. I’ve seen suggestions of pairing it with a Rosé Champagne, Pinot Noir or Cabernet Sauvignon. I can also imagine pairing it with a dry rosé, but I haven’t tried it.