A Gruyère AOP of excellence produced in Val-de-Ruz
The prize for the Canton of Neuchâtel's best Gruyère AOP 2020 was awarded to Daniel Maurer, a cheesemaker in Chézard-Saint-Martin. Since this selection of Neuchâtel's Gruyère AOP began, Mr. Maurer has always been a finalist.
"I have always felt that the consumer is the judge of the quality of my Gruyère AOP."
Daniel Maurer, cheesemaker
The prize, awarded by the Neuchâtel Chamber of Agriculture and Viticulture in collaboration with the Interprofession du Gruyère and Neuchâtel Vins et Terroir, is a great source of pride for the Val-de-Ruz cheesemaker. But Daniel Maurer has always worked with those who eat his cheese in mind, saying "I have always felt that the consumer is the judge of the quality of my Gruyère AOP".
In 2005, Daniel Maurer was short of space and could not keep his cheeses long enough, neither in his cellar nor in his production area. The cheese dairy dates back to 1979 and there were more and more repairs that needed to be carried out. He heard about the construction of a new Landi shop in the next village, Cernier. The whole building was to be on stilts. One of the milk producers, who was involved in the Landi project, proposed the idea of building a new cheese dairy in the foundations of the shop. The dairy company then commissioned an architect to design the project. Between January and December 2006, the cheese dairy was planned, designed and built in record time.
As the production process focuses solely on Gruyère AOP, only two people work at the Chézard-Saint-Martin cheese dairy. "Everything has been arranged so that we can work alone. There are no stairs and we hardly carry anything," confides Daniel Maurer. The cheesemakers make organic and traditional Gruyère AOP cheese in two separate vats. They make their cheese from one million two hundred and fifty thousand litres of organic milk and one million litres of traditional milk year-round.
Chézard-Saint-Martin's Gruyère AOP has always been of a high quality. Thanks to these new installations and its robot in the cellar, the work is nonetheless greatly facilitated.
Daniel Maurer is always keenly focused on the quality of the milk. Several times a week he checks the level of undesirable bacteria in the milk and is constantly investigating the source of even the slightest deterioration in quality. If the change comes from the milk producer, he discusses it with him in order to restore the situation as quickly as possible. Sometimes this variation can also come from his own premises. He therefore frequently and systematically samples and examines the cleanliness of the machinery. "Before, when we cleaned by hand, we knew it was clean. Now we do less actual cleaning, but we still have to check everything."
All his inspections and efforts are bearing fruit, as last year Daniel Maurer obtained a very good average score of 19.33 for his traditional Gruyère AOP and 19.54 for his organic Gruyère AOP. His fine quality cheese is matured in the cellars of Milka SA in Berthoud (Bürgdorf).