It’s a mouthful in more ways than one. Schnebelhorn doesn’t exactly roll off the tongue, but it’s a palate pleaser in every other respect. I’m not sure cheese can get any better. Raw cow’s milk, Swiss know-how and eight months in a cellar have produced a new alpine gem that you really need to know. Heirloom apples, toasted walnuts and Schnebelhorn—there’s your autumn cheese board.
Its creator, Reto Güntensperger, is a third-generation cheesemaker in the canton of St. Gallen. His grandfather made Appenzeller, his father made Appenzeller, but Reto wants to branch out. Until the cartel-like Swiss Cheese Union collapsed in 1999, creativity wasn’t an option. But it is now.
Reto still makes Appenzeller but with the milk from suppliers who farm at lower altitude. With the milk from higher-altitude farms, he tries new ideas.
Schnebelhorn, named for a local mountain, is a cream-enriched wheel weighing about 15 pounds. The creamery is modern but almost everything about the recipe is traditional: raw milk, animal rennet, long aging. The wheels are brine-washed as they age to produce those beefy aromas, and the cream—that’s the novel part—amps up the richness. The interior is firm and pale gold, with a smattering of pea-sized eyes and the white specks that indicate protein crystals.
And, oh, that scent: garlic, roasted onion, brown butter, toasted hazelnut. It is the tip-off to this cheese’s deep, savory flavor, concentrated but not tiring, the essence of umami. A morsel dissolves on the tongue in a wave of cream.
Schnebelhorn would be happy with a rich white wine—a buttery Chardonnay or Viognier or spicy Alsatian Pinot Gris—but if you’re having it at the end of a meal, consider an oxidized white, like an amontillado sherry or Madeira. Malt-forward beers (think doppelbock) and high-alcohol Belgian styles like dubbels and quads are good options for craft-beer enthusiasts.
Look for Schnebelhorn at these retailers.
New Class: Seven Styles of Cheese
Sunday, October 15
25 North Street
1 p.m. - 2:30 p.m.
Can you tell a bloomy-rind from a washed-rind? A triple crème from a tomme? In this sit-down seminar, we’ll taste world-class examples of seven different cheese styles, and I’ll help you understand how these diverse cheeses got that way. Hone your tasting skills. Master some cheese lingo. Be a smarter cheese shopper.