Picón Bejes-Tresviso PDO

Blue cheese made from cows’, ewes’ or goats’ milk, or mixtures of two or all three of them, from the Tudanca, Swiss Brown and Friesian cattle breeds, the Latxa sheep breed and the Pyrenean and Picos de Europa goat breeds. Curing lasts a minimum of two months and takes place in natural caves.

Tasting notes

The flavor is well-developed, intense, penetrating and very buttery, and the aroma is reminiscent of fresh mold.

Other notes

The drum shape is flat on the top and bottom and 7-15 cm (2¾-6”) high. The weight and diameter may vary. The rind is soft, thin, creamy and gray, with yellow-green patches. The paste is compact, with eyes, and creamy in consistency but may be crumbly, depending on the length of curing. The color is white, with greeny-blue patches and veins. The percentage of fat in dry matter must be no less than 45% and moisture 30%.

Production / Processing method

The different types of milk are used in proportions that vary according to the season, although the Regulatory Council recommends the ideal blend for obtaining balanced fat and protein content. Coagulation is by lactic acid, with the exact amount of starter being added for the process to take place at 22-26ºC (71-78ºF) during a minimum of one hour.

The resulting curds are cut gently to the size of hazelnuts, then left to stand for 15 minutes after which the whey is drained off until the curds are dry. They are then squeezed, forming balls 1-2 cm (½-¾”) across. These are then transferred to molds but are not pressed, allowing Penicillium mold to develop in the gaps. After 2-3 hours, the molds are turned and left to stand for 24 hours.

The salting process uses dry salt, the proportion being 2-3 times the weight of the cheese. The first day, one side is salted, the second the other, and on the third day the mold is removed and the sides are salted.The cheeses are then aired for 12-18 days at a temperature of 15-18ºC in storage rooms where air currents help them dry out.

They are then transferred to natural limestone caves for ripening, usually in the local area and at altitudes of 500-2,000 m (1,640-6,561 ft). Inside these, the temperature is 5-10ºC (41-50ºF) and moisture 85.95%. There must be breathing holes in the cheeses to allow development of Penicillium inside the cheese and of Brevibacterium linens on the outside.

Ripening takes at least two months, starting from the date of coagulation and including the necessary turning and cleaning to give the cheese its special characteristics.

The Regulations do not allow alteration of the natural characteristics of the rind by, for example, coating it with wax, paraffin wax, plastic substances or colorants.The traditional use of sycamore maple (Acer pseudoplatanus) leaves is allowed.

Geography / Relief and climate

The district of Liébana, in the south-west of the province of Cantabria, borders in the west with the Principality of Asturias and in the south with the provinces of Palencia and León (Castile-León).

It lies within a circular tectonic depression approximately 40 km (25 miles) across. The lowest part is at an altitude of 300-400 m (984-1,312 ft) and the edges exceed 2,000 m (6,561 ft).The landscape is fairly irregular with long, narrow valleys alternating with irregular, heavily-eroded interfluves. The mountainous relief is especially rough in the western parts with many vertical escarpments. The relief in the south and east is gentler with some small terraced areas.

The soils in the lowest parts of the depression are Paleozoic slate which have evolved to form limey, moist, brown soils rich in bases and nutritional elements. Around the edges, the soil is made up of Paleozoic limey materials which, beyond the Peña Labra mountain, alternate with conglomerate, sandstone, clay and limonite.

Temperatures are mild, with an annual average of 14.5ºC (58ºF). The average minimum is 10ºC (50ºF) and the average maximum 20ºC (58ºF). Absolute maxima of about 36ºC (96.8ºF) may be reached in the months of July and August. Rainfall is very heavy – 900-1,200 mm (35-47”) and there are 90-120 rainy days every year.

The most frequent winds are cool northerlies, with hot, dry winds in the south.The district’s main rivers are the Deva and the Nansa. The former starts out in the Picos de Europa and forms the border with Asturias as it meets the sea. Its most important tributaries are the Quivisa and the Bayón. The Nansa is the most irregular of the local rivers and its mouth forms the Tina Menor estuary.

The plant species growing on pasturelands are fairly varied – mostly grasses which can be used for grazing – and the same species tend to grow also at high altitudes.

Regulatory Council

Consejo Regulador de la DOP Picón Bejes-Tresviso
C/ Héroes 2 de Mayo, 27
39600 Muriedas
Tel: (+34) 942 269 855

Spanish Ministry of Agriculture

Regulatory Council, Picón Bejes-Tresviso PDO

Muriedas (Cantabria)

Muriedas (Cantabria)