P.D.O. Queso Camerano, a cheese with history
"Unas tierras dan vino, en otras dan dineros,
en algunas cevera, en algunas carneros;
fierro traen de Álaba e cuños de aceros qesos dan en ofrenda por todos los Cameros"
"Life of San Millán de la Cogolla", Book III, stanza 466
Reference taken from Gonzalo de Berceo, Obra Completa (Espasa Calpe / Gobierno de La Rioja, Madrid, 1992, pág. 243)
The “Los Cameros” Goat’s Cheese is a combination of all the flavour and all the tradition of our ancestors, together with the careful processing demanded by a Signature Cheese. The result is a full flavoured, highly intense and slightly lactic cheese with a pronounced aroma derived from natural curing. With this cheese we invite you to savour the gastronomic heritage of La Rioja.
Under the signature of Francisco Javier Martínez, a master cheese maker, we are proud to present the revival of this centuries-old recipe for the Goat’s Cheese which was formerly made in La Rioja.
The development of affinage molds and the olive oil rubs gives the perfect aroma and the colour achieved on maturity.
It is a full flavoured, highly intense and slightly lactic cheese, with a pronounced aroma and natural maturing, with an off-white colour and firm and crumbly texture. The characteristic rind is finely marked by the woven cheese-making basket.
From the 18th century onwards, one of the principal activities in the sierra of La Rioja was linked to goat breeding and goat farming. In fact, from the date when the Herrera Monastery was first founded in Haro, the presence of their cattle was a constant motive for lawsuits between the monks and vineyard proprietors, due to the damage caused to the vines by the goats.
And as a historic document to uphold this, we have the following Ordinance approved by the Lords of the Royal Council of Castile in 1729, under the reign of Philip V, which leaves no room for doubt that herds of goats were traditionally present in the municipality of Haro, as can be seen, in the interdiction for the cattle to feed, specific mention is made of the so-called “older” goats.
Artisan and the economy
This activity was associated with the development of a unique lifestyle. Society in the Sierra de Cameros and in the sierra in general was organised around institutions such as the Mesta, a powerful organisation of sheep holders, and activities such as transhumance and a series of customs, folklore, gastronomy, etc. related to the cattle-raising and shepherding tasks.
One such task was related to cheesemaking. In a basic subsistence and bartering economy, cheese constituted a basic product to sustain families in the Rioja sierra. The so-called fresh cheese for seasonal consumption and the cured variety of the Cameros cheese, which served as a food reserve for those periods of lower milk production. .
The evolution of artisan
In all, as was to happen in the rest of Europe, as the industrialisation process extended throughout the 19th century, the artisan cheesemaking process gradually evolved to incorporate scientific and technical advances.
In Spain, where the industrialisation process was somewhat delayed and was not evident until the first decades of the 20th century, the cheese industry progressively evolved to considerable increase the production of goat’s milk cheese whilst gradually mitigating some of the disadvantages of artisan production with regard to health, hygiene, quality control … In La Rioja this process of modernisation gave rise to the establishment of new cheese factories, such as Lácteos Martínez, located in Haro since 1961.