Piave is my "go to" cheese in the deli whenever someone wants one to go with red wine. With only a few exceptions, it is the best cheese in the deli whenever it is in stock. This article, by the way, is our fifth cheese article, all in the last six months in what used to be a wine-only blog, so you may conclude that if I blog about it, it must be good cheese.
Piave gets its name from the Piave River Valley in the Dolomite Alpine region near Belluno, Italy in the Veneto appellation. It has been produced by the Cooperativa Lattebusche dairy there since 1960, which makes this writer older than the product he is writing about. Vecchio, by the way, means "aged" and Piave is typically aged one year. Like Der Scharfe Maxx (Blog 2/4/12) the cow's milk used in the making of Piave is sourced from both morning and evening milkings in equal portions to achieve a balance in texture.
So what makes Piave special? I think it is the cheese's wininess and by that I mean the long lingering flavors that stay with you hopefully in harmony with the wine you are drinking with it. The flavors are tropical fruit with caramel and nuts. The cheese is dry but not extremely dry and it has the crystalline paste common to some aged cheeses. It features a nose of butterscotch, the walnut character of Gruyere, and a slight almond bitterness. It is straw-yellow in color, slightly sweet, and suitable for grating when aged enough. It has been compared to a young Reggiano and I like the idea of grating/shaving Piave over cooked greens.
I believe in drinking Italian wine with Italian food but I think this cheese would compliment most reds, serious whites, and sturdy ales. Piave Vecchio is on order from New York with an ETA of Friday April 6th, just in time for Easter entertaining. On the same truck will be Blue d'Auvergne (Blog 11/1/11) and several other cheeses and Italian (think olive oil) crackers. Attend the regular Friday wine tasting (5-7pm), mention this article, and pick up some Reber Mozart chocolates with a 20% discount, just in time for Easter!