Parmigiano Reggiano auctioning 21-year-old cheese wheel for charity

By Jim Cornall

- Last updated on GMT

Erio Bertani with the wheel.
Erio Bertani with the wheel.

Related tags Parmigiano reggiano Cheese

Parmigiano Reggiano is auctioning a 21-year-old wheel of the cheese for charity at the World Cheese Awards.

The consortium has joined the list of sponsors of the event, which takes place as part of the International Cheese Festival in Oviedo, Spain from November 3-6, 2021.

The auction is now live,​ and is open to anyone worldwide. Bids can be accepted until November 6, and donations can also be made.  The minimum bid on the wheel is €3,000 ($3,480).

All proceeds from the auction will be donated to two solidarity projects supported by the Parmigiano Reggiano Consortium: Aiutiamo il mondo di Padre Marco Canovi (Let’s help the world by Father Marco Canovi) and Mama Sofia, founded by Zakaria Seddiki, wife of the late ambassador to Congo, Luca Attanasio.

The latter initiative is directly supported by La Forma Del Cuore (The shape of the heart), which is a project created by the Nazionale del Parmigiano Reggiano, an association of Parmigiano Reggiano dairies. The Mama Sofia organization supports women and families in situations of serious hardship in the Congo by providing healthcare, clean water, and schoolbooks for children. Proceeds from the auction donated to La Forma del Cuore will support the Mama Sofia Medical Centre – the first medical centre dedicated to combatting malnutrition in Boma. The centre will guarantee medical support for at least 100 children every year.

Proceeds from the auction donated to Father Canovi’s non-profit group will help build a pediatric medical centre in the Apeitolim, which is already under way with construction to be completed by 2022. The money from the auction will be used for the medical center to train and recruit staff, as well as to purchase medical equipment.

The minimum maturation period of a Parmesan wheel is 12 months, after which every individual wheel is quality-checked by a member of the consortium.

However, no maximum age has ever been set, with 24-, 36-, 40-, and 48-month Parmigiano Reggiano widely available for purchase. As every age acquires unexpected and unparalleled aromas and flavors, a 21-year-old wheel of cheese is expected to be amber straw yellow with an intense toasted smell. The aromatic analysis should highlight typical leather, underwood, truffle, and smoky notes. The cheese will probably have a special structure: dry, very crumbly, and soluble.

The cheese wheel was produced in April 2000 by the Latteria di Tabiano dairy when it was under the leadership of the late Erio Bertani. It was one of the first wheels of Parmigiano Reggiano to be awarded the “Quality of the Mountain” status by the Conva Consortium, which is responsible for the safeguarding and promotion of products from the Apennines.

The wheel was then purchased by Bertani, who kept it in his warehouse until 2018, when his wife, Susetta Sforacchi, children, and the Nazionale Parmigiano Reggiano (Parmigiano Reggiano National Team) decided to donate it to charity in his memory.

The cheese wheel will be on display at the International Cheese Festival and the World Cheese Awards, and representatives from the Parmigiano Reggiano Consortium will also be present throughout, where a sampling stand will be set up for attendees to learn more about Parmigiano Reggiano.

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