Villajos Reserva is an authentic handmade, raw sheep's milk cheese cured for over one year. This aged "curado" Manchego has a full rich flavor with a nice sharpness. Slice and serve with olives and sliced jamon for the authentic flavor of Spain. Packed in a rustic wooden box, it makes a superb gift!
Many connoisseurs rate this Villajos as the best Manchego in Spain (and therefore the world). We are proud to be the exclusive source of this precious cheese in America. Their tiny artisan family operation is too small for the Villajos brothers to supply the commercial market.
The cheese is "homemade" - made in small quantities by two brothers from milk supplied by local shepherds. The cheese is made with raw milk from the Manchega breed of sheep, which are tended by shepherds in the hills surrounding the village. The sheep graze on fresh grass and herbs as they wander the countryside, adding a complex full flavor to their milk.
The family collects the fresh milk and makes the cheese within hours of milking in order to preserve its natural aroma and taste. This extra effort is amply rewarded. Because the milk is so fresh, it does not need to be pasteurized which would tone down the rich flavors of the cheese.
It yields an insuperable taste, full of subtle tones -- far superior to that of the industrial cheeses that are made with pasteurized milk. We order at least five months ahead so that they can plan to have enough milk from the local shepherds. The entire production process is supervised by the Council of the Denomination of Origin of Manchego Cheese.
Despite its relatively recent arrival in the cheese marketplace, the beautifully crafted Villajos "curado" earned First Prize for Manchego in 2002, a Silver Medal in 2003 and a Silver Medal in 2006 at the Gran Selección de Castilla La Mancha contest.
The Gran Selección is an annual food contest held by the regional Government of Castilla-La Mancha. Products such as wine, Manchego cheese, saffron, extra virgin olive oil, etc. run for a prize in their own categories for 'best of the year'. It is not an easy achievement to win so many of these prestigious awards during such a short term.
There are many cheeses marketed as Manchego, but this one is in a class by itself.