An ode to Azeitão, and with Primitivo (or Zinfandel), oh my!

pc 10032 An ode to Azeitão, and with Primitivo (or Zinfandel), oh my!From the tiny village of Azeitão (Ah-zhey-TONE) just south of Lisbon, the eponymous cheese is one that I have admired for years. Its soft unctuous texture and its nutty olive oil flavor makes for an inviting gateway to the diversity of thistle-renneted cheeses of Iberia. Azeitão appeared in my first book – The Cheese Plate – in the all-sheep plate. The ode that I wrote to it in my latest book – Mastering Cheese – had to be edited down; the tribute I wrote to it was just short of “X” rated.

Azeitão is a particularly sexy cheese, being made with sheep milk helps. Because it is produced in a relatively small format makes it a perfect cheese for sharing with your significant other, though as I mention in that ode, you can enjoy it all by yourself. Likely you can’t quite finish it in one setting however, not even two persons, it is so full of great nutrients: protein and amino acids, good butterfats and conjugated linoleic acid, vitamins and minerals.

Just last night we had this cheese in a Cheese & Wine 101 class here at the Center. We tasted it against a Muscadet, a Prieto Picudo and a Primitivo. I enjoyed the cheese with all three of the wines, but the clear favorite for most everyone was the Primitivo. The Azeitão has way of taming the medium tannins in many red wines, the more rustic types and the more elegant styles. In my second book – Cheese, a Connoisseur’s Guide to the World’s Best – the Azeitão is highlighted and several varietals are recommended as good pairing partners, Zinfandel (a descendant of Primitivo) is listed.

Spread the curd!
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Posted by Max McCalman

2 Responses to “An ode to Azeitão, and with Primitivo (or Zinfandel), oh my!”

  1. Roland Says:


    I was very surprised that are a lot of cheese in the world which are made with the Cynara species. I like this cheese which have a taste diferent from all other cheese. if you want to see how the cheese farmers here on the canary islands are making, look at:
    Greetings from Canary Islands


  2. catherine white Says:

    Dear Max

    I attended your Cheese 101 and loved it. I am the person who is going to be selling cheese in farmers markets with Artisanal this fall. Just going through your notes is inspiring me all over again! Thank you for spreadingthe good word and reminding me of wonderful tastes now and in the future.

    Hope to see you and listen to you soon,

    Catherine White