Cheese: Rolf Beeler Napf Bergkäse
Who: Aged by Rolf Beeler
Where: Lucern Canton, Switzerland
Milk Type: raw, cow
Texture: firm and smooth, not grainy
Shape: 16lb, 2 1/2″ tall flat wheel
Flavor: deeply nutty, buttery, full cream, cured/aged meat
For more than 30 years, Swiss Mâitre Fromager, or master cheesemonger, Rolf Beeler has built a cheese empire, seemingly single-handedly rescuing Swiss cheeses from their self-imposed, almost formulaic dominance of Emmentaler and Gruyere above all. Today Rolf works with Swiss makers to hand select, guide and nurture the development of dozens of cheeses to be the finest representations of Swiss cheesemaking available. It’s probable that, more than any other individual, Rolf Beeler has directed the current state of the art in Swiss cheeses.
From Rolf Beeler:
The idea of the Sélection Rolf Beeler was originally to conquer foreign countries with a selection of the finest Swiss cheeses, with our name as the guarantee of superior quality. This we have succeeded in doing. In 1998, the Sélection was presented for the first time at the ‘Salone del Gusto’ international Slow Food festival in Turin, where it gained wide recognition. Today, the Sélection Rolf Beeler can be found on the menu in more than 120 top of the range restaurants in Germany, England, Switzerland and the USA. It has already won a number of international prizes, and in the USA 17 of the 18 cheeses from the Sélection were awarded 90 points, outstanding, by Max McCalman, the ‘Robert Parker’ of cheeses.
But don’t think this is some enormous factory of an operation, Rolf works only with small makers, local village artisans and farmstead makers who carefully craft limited supplies of seasonally-derived cheeses.
Napfkäse is a summer Alpine cheese from Lucerne Canton, by a single maker.
Napfkäse draws on the characteristic traits of Swiss originals: the rich creaminess of Emmental, the pungent nose of Appenzeller and the nuttiness of Gruyere… then amplifies each. It’s a deeper, headier and more complex statement than common Swiss cheeses. It is a more pure representation of the dairy’s milk, not made generic. This is a hearty cheese, an Alpine cheese in the best historical sense – a meaty cheese that, along with a hunk of rustic bread and perhaps a strong pint, nourished a farmer through at the end of a hard day, through a long season.
This one will hold up to a firmer white wine, something with plenty of mineral notes and enough fruitiness to balance the earthiness of the cheese.