The Cora family (who are leaf wrappers) work with entrepreneur and affineur Gianni Cora in the Piedmont region to make artisanal Italian cheeses. Tumin del Dian is from the Asti region of the Langhe. Cora’s specialty are soft ripened robiola-style cheeses. The cheeses are usually leaf-wrapped (using chestnut, cherry, fig or grape leaves).
I’m a huge fan of Cora’s cheeses (read my Robiola di Castagna notes) and I look for them. Please do be vigilant when you purchase a leaf-wrapped cheese, as they are very delicate. You can often tell from the condition of the leaf wrapping, the age and condition of the cheese. If a leaf-wrapped cheese is sold in cellophane or plastic wrap, make sure you have the cheesemonger unwrap before you buy it, so that you can check its condition. The leaves should look healthy with no seeping or just a little mold growth on the outside (if it’s slightly older). Remember the leaves are designed to protect the cheese. Also be wary of “squished” cheeses.
Tumin del Dian is a small round (about 3” in diameter and about 5oz) of cow and sheep's milk cheese, seasoned with pepper, and wrapped in a chestnut leaf. The cheese I enjoyed was on the aged side with a bit of white mold on the leaves, and the leaves were difficult to unwrap. But the leaves themselves were in good shape, not brittle or dry.
The cheese has a firmness and holds its shape. The rind is dry and slightly hard in places but still moist where the leaves have pressed into it. Where it is dry, it is white and where it is moist, it is a lovely shade of sienna brown with darker marks which the veins of the leaves have left a pattern.
I love the smell of this cheese and am happy to bury my nose in the musky leaves. The scent is of forest floor in the fall, when the leaves on the ground are dry, combined with warm animals, which are cooling off in the shade of the trees. There are cellar-y notes here which might not be as prominent with a newer cheese, fresh molds and some suggestion of dampness.
Joanne's Tasting Note:
Nose of warm butter and sweaty animal, leads to a toothy pate with a meaty texture. There is a pronounced saltiness on the finish with lots of hard minerals and a bit of cellar-y leaf mold. A very long finish.
The center notes are of warm butter and a bit of light acridity under the rind (which is expected for the age of this cheese). The cheese has a light acidity which is pleasant. I did not like the rind with this cheese, likely because of the age on it. A younger cheese would have almost no rind.
I tried an off-dry Chenin Blanc from François Chidaine with Tumin Del Dian and found that the slight sweetness balanced the saltiness. Almonds or walnuts and fruit paste seem like a good match.
Where to Buy:
I found this cheese at Dean & Deluca in St. Helena, CA. I don't know of an online source.