Hailing from the central mountains of Switzerland, Sbrinz is this country's oldest cheese and thought to be the one that Roman scholar and naturalist Pliny the Elder referred to in the 1st century AD as caseus helveticus ("Swiss cheese"). There's some speculation that the Italians modeled their hard cheeses grana padano and parmigiano-reggiano after Sbrinz. It's made from whole cow's milk and aged from 1½ to 4 years. If aged less than this, it is called Spalen. Sbrinz has a yellowish-gold interior with a golden-brown rind. The mellow flavor is fruity, nutty, spicy and toffeelike, intensifying as the cheese ages. See also cheese.