Allegretto is only made from the milk of one sheep herd which is grazed in one specific area-the pastures of the Abitibi region of Quebec. The area’s Nordic climate (aka Canada) results in pastures with a higher sugar content, which is passed along to the sheep creating sweeter milk. This explains why Allegretto is so sweet compared to other sheep’s milk cheeses not from the same terroir. It also explains why so many cheeses which are fundamentally the same thing, are called different names. Pecorino, Manchego and Allegretto are virtually the same cheese- yes, but the terroir sets them apart.
Allegretto is a pressed cheese, aged a minimum 120 days. While ripening, the exterior of the cheese is washed every two days with brine to develop its natural rind. As already mentioned, Allegretto is neither a raw milk nor pasteurized cheese, it is thermalized. Thermalization heats the milk to a lower temperature, which destroys most of the potentially bad bacteria but keeps some of the flavour from the beneficial microbes. Hopefully any remaining harmful bacteria die off during the aging process. A cheese made from raw or thermalized milk cannot be sold younger than 60 days in Canada.
The cheese’s fresh, clean aroma and creamy, slightly fruity taste reflect its terroir. It has a mellow overtone, but like a subtle wit, delivers a lovely complexity of flavours that linger on the palate. A nutty flavour and slight tang are prominent closer to the rind and become more noticeable throughout the cheese with age.
Aside from earning a spot on the cheese board, Allegretto is a wonderful cheese to showcase by shaving it on a salad with your best olive oil or melting it into a gourmet grilled cheese on sourdough. When heated, the flavour of Allegretto comes across in full effect.