Taleggio cheese is a washed-rind, semisoft traditionally cave aged cheese product that's made solely in Lombardy, Italy. Although, there are a few cheesemakers outside the Lombardy region making Taleggio. It's a stinker by nature, but also a incredibly mild melting cheese.
Washed rind cheeses have their exteriors "washed" with salted water to attract bacteria essential for developing moist rinds. A young Taleggio will have a semisoft texture, but an older variety, the inner cream "oozes" when cut.
The flavor of Taleggio cheese closly resembles gorgonzola cheese, but Taleggio does not have Gorgonzola's mold culture which blue/green veins help define Gorgonzola cheese. Taleggio is sweet, minimally acidic, with a slight truffle aftertaste and unusual fruity tang.
Again, the need for preservation, just like with aged charcuterie meats, is the reason for how Taleggio originated. Academia Barilla states, "Like many other alpine cheeses, Taleggio was born out of the need to preserve the milk left over from home consumption. It was made by hand at home and aged in local caves, including the famous ones in the Sassina Valley. According to sources from up to 1200, Taleggio was often used for bartering."
Culture Cheese Magazine says, "Historians and archaeologists can trace it geographically back to the ninth century, pinning it to Val Taleggio, an Alpine valley in the Lombardy region, although the cheese has evidently existed for much longer along the Alpine migration route (the same route along which Gorgonzola was born)." They go on to say, "the name “Taleggio” did not come about until 1914."
Taleggio earned DOP name protection in 1996. DOP is Italion Denominazione Origine Protetta, which means it's name is protected with the Protected Designation of Origin with the Regulation CE 1107/96. Name protection requires Taleggio to follow the same recipe regardless of producer.
Regardless of where Taleggio is produced, every square of it is branded with a four circle branding known as the Consorzio Tutela Taleggio, guaranteeing its quality and origin.