Sheep are the most authentic livestock in Spain. They mostly inhabit the Castilian plains in central Spain and the mountains of northern Spain in Basque Country and Navarre, where there is plenty of pasture. The production of sheep's cheeses is strictly controlled and guaranteed by Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) status.
A rainy, mountainous strip along the northern coast of Spain, separated from the rest of the peninsula by the Picos de Europa, Montes de Galicia and the Pyrenees mountains, is a land of pastures and meadows that provide fodder for more than 15 native cattle breeds. There are many hard-to-reach remote spots in the inter-mountain valleys, and their geographical isolation has led to an extraordinary wealth of different types of cheeses.
Goats can eat plants and pastures that are inaccessible to other farm animals. In Spain, they are mostly reared in the austere landscapes along the Mediterranean coast, in the mountains of Andalusia, Extremadura and in the Canary Islands. The most popular PDO goat's milk cheeses are Ibores, which is made in the Extremadura and Murcia al Vino, traditionally soaked in red wine. The most famous goat cheeses from the Canary Islands are Palmero from La Palma and Majorero from Fuerteventura.
The most popular and available Spanish cheeses, normally cylindrical in shape, are those made from three types of milk. It is the case of Ibérico. It is mild but has a distinct flavor. Its acidity is due to the high content of cow's milk, light spice is due to goat's milk and sheep's milk gives it a buttery flavor.
On the other hand, in the mountainous landscape of Picos de Europa, which include border areas between the regions of Cantabria, Asturias and Castile-León, several blue, soft-paste cheeses are produced. This mountainous terrain close to the Bay of Biscay, is home to natural caves that offer exactly the right humidity and cold air for the maturing of blue cheese. The best known of such cheeses is PDO Cabrales.