Larraun y Basaburua valleys, near Lekunberri, at the foot of the Aralar mountains (Navarre)
- Composition: Raw Latxa ewe’s milk
- Rennet: Natural
- Texture: Uncooked pressed paste
- Ageing: minimum 3 months
- Diameter: 13 cm. (approx 5 in.)
- Weight: 1.2 to 1.35 kg. (approx. 2.6 to 2.9 lb.)
The origins of Idiazábal cheese are lost in the mists of time, but it comes from the area of Navarre, Alava, Vizcaya and Guipúzcoa, with the most important production areas being Navarre and the Urbasa, Andía and Aralar mountains.
The tradition of smoking the cheeses began accidentally in the Aralar mountains. The shepherds of the area lived in rural dwellings in which one room served for making the cheese, storing it, living and sleeping, and in which the fire was always kept burning in order to cook and to keep warm; the end result was that the cheeses and the shepherds themselves ended up smoked.
Exterior: smooth rind, without pores; in the case of the smoked cheeses almost without bumps or surface irregularities and very satiny, with light wrinkle marks left from the cloths used to mould them.
The colour varies from light brown to dark brown in the smoked varieties. Interior: the cut is clean, smooth, closed and with few randomly scattered eyes. The texture is creamy and elastic.
It makes an excellent partner for wines from Rioja and Ribera del Duero.