Queso Manchego PDO

Pressed cheese made from whole milk from Manchego ewes, and ripened for a minimum of 30 days for cheese weighing 1.5 kg or more, and 60 days for the remaining formats.

Tasting notes

A characteristic aroma and slightly sharp, intense flavor that becomes slightly piquant in well-ripened cheeses. The Manchego ewes’ milk gives a pleasant, unusual aftertaste. The texture is firm and compact.

Other notes

Cylindrical in shape with flat top and bottom. Maximum height is 12 cm (4¾”), maximum diameter 22 cm (8.6”), and weight may vary between 0.4 and 4 kg (0.8 – 8.8 lb).

The rind is hard and yellow. The sides are imprinted with plaiting marks from the molds, and the top and bottom bear the characteristic flower imprint. The color of the paste may vary from white to yellowish-ivory and it may be dotted with tiny eyes.

This cheese has the following physical and chemical characteristics:

- pH: 4.5 to 5.8
- Refraction index at 40º C: from 1.4530 to 1.4557
- Dry matter: minimum 55%
- Total protein over dry matter: minimum 30 %
- Fat in dry matter: minimum 50% - Sodium chloride: maximum 2.3 %.

Production / Processing method

The fresh milk is placed in cooling tanks to bring down the temperature to 4ºC (39ºF). It must be free from colostrum and medications which might affect the production, ripening and storing of the cheese.

First, the milk is soured using animal rennet or other lactic starters authorized by the Regulatory Council. It is then heated to 28-32ºC (82-89ºF) for 30 to 60 minutes and kept at this temperature for 45-60 minutes. The resulting curds are cut into the size of rice grains.

The mixture is stirred and heated again to 40ºC (104ºF) to help drain off the whey. Then the curds are placed in cylindrical molds which imprint the standard 'flower' pattern on the top and bottom of the cheese and the typical plaiting marks on the sides.

Once the cheeses have been molded, they are pressed to remove the whey from the interior, returned to the molds but this time the other way up and pressed again. They are then salted, either with dry sodium chloride or by immersing them in brine for a maximum of 48 hours.

Finally, the cheeses are left to stand in the right humidity conditions for more water to drain out, then transferred to the ripening chambers under controlled temperature and moisture conditions. Ripening lasts for a minimum of 60 days (except for cheeses under 1.5 kg.) after molding, and during this period the cheeses are turned and cleaned until they acquire the necessary characteristics.

Cheeses covered by the Regulatory Council are identified with a numbered label bearing the PDO logo. On cheeses weighing under 1.5 kg (3 lb 5 oz), the top right-hand corner of the label is crossed by a blue stripe and, if the cheese is sold in plastic-wrapped portions, the stripe is green.

The underside of the cheeses bears a numbered ‘casein’ label stating the term Manchego. This term must also appear on the commercial label, which must also state that the cheese has been made exclusively from Manchego ewes' milk.

Geography / Relief and climate

La Mancha is located in the southern part of the sub-meseta and is characterized by its flat landscape which descends in the direction of the Atlantic, only occasionally broken up by higher ground in the westernmost parts and some small hills formed out of erosion-resistant rocks.

This is a vast plain at an altitude of over 600 m (1,968 ft) stretching from east to west and from north to south, straddling the provinces of Toledo, Cuenca, Ciudad Real and Albacete in the Autonomous Community of Castile-La Mancha to the south-east of Madrid.

This area lies on limey-clay soils from the Miocene and the pasture lands are rich in lime or marl. The region’s climate is extreme continental, with greatly fluctuating temperatures, very harsh winters, and very hot summers sometimes reaching 40ºC (104ºF). Daily temperature differences may be as great as 20ºC (68ºF) and yearly differences 50ºC (122ºF).

Rainfall is scarce, and the atmosphere is extremely dry, with relative humidity of 65%. The region is crossed by four main rivers – the Tagus and Guadiana flowing into the Atlantic, and the Júcar and Segura flowing into the Mediterranean. There are also tributaries leading into the Tagus and Guadiana, with many reservoirs in use both for irrigation and for power generation, as well as many wells from which groundwater can be raised.

This is a very extensive area and its activity focuses on grazing for Manchego sheep. Where cereal crops are grown, the sheep graze on the straw and what is left of the crop after harvesting. They also eat the stubble of high-protein leguminous crops, vetch and chickpeas but mostly lentils.

Also the shoots of vines, this being an important wine-producing area. The pastures found in clearings amongst the scrubland are much appreciated by sheep-breeders.

Regulatory Council

Avenida del Vino, s/n
13300 Valdepeñas (Ciudad Real)
Castilla-La Mancha
Tel: (+34) 926 322 666

Spanish Ministry of Agriculture

Regulatory Council, Queso Manchego PDO

Valdepeñas (Castilla-La Mancha)

Valdepeñas (Castilla-La Mancha)