At the lower level of the building Centro del Bitto in Gerola Alta it is possible to visit the cellar wheremore than 3’000 wheels of Storico cheese from various years are kept.
At the end of the summer season, by the middle of September, the 12 Save Heritage Bitto Consortium producers deposit the wheels of cheese produced in the summer pastures in the cellar. Here the Heritage is tended, a process which requires constant care to bring the cheeses to the correct level of maturity. In the first year, the wheels which are placed on wooden shelves, are regularly cleaned and turned to allow for correct oxygenation. They are cleaned using a machine and a blade in order to eliminate superficial mould. The frequency of this process depends on the external climate: in case of humidity and warmth more work is required on the cheeses in the cellar.
During this operation the staff check the appearance of each wheel and make a first selection of the Storico to be further matured. The selection process entails choosing the best cheeses to mature and cutting those that have small visible defects
on the rind (mites or “carol”, swelling).
If the defects are likely to compromise the quality of the product, the wheels of cheese are classified as second choice compared to those approved by the Slow Food Presidia.
The best wheels chosen may be left to mature for 10 years or more:
“When you taste a small piece of 10 year old Bitto the taste is surprisingly good, the result of the absolute quality of this cheese. The initial surprise at such a delicious flavour leads one to ask a thousand questions about how a similar explosion of tastes
can come to be. It is therefore absolutely necessary to know its history to understand that you have before you a medieval product. And for this reason it is unique, inimitable and extraordinary.”
Hervè Mons, best expert of France. Turin Salone del Gusto 2002