The world’s largest cheese-only event, the World Cheese Awards, came to a tense finale last night at the International Convention Centre Wales, where 4,434 cheeses from 42 countries across the globe went head-to-head at the largest cheese-only event.
Rising to the top for USA was the Greensward made by Murray’s Cheese. Initially winning a Super Gold, this spruce-bark wrapped, cow’s milk cheese, that is washed with cider for three weeks, went on to win the trophy Best USA Cheese, sponsored by the US Dairy Export Council. Murray’s Cheese also won a second Super Gold for its Hudson Flower, a sheep’s milk cheese coated with hops, thyme, rosemary, and chervil. Other notable wins for the USA included two more other Super Golds: one for past World Champion Cheese winner Rogue River, this time for their Bluehorn Blue Cheese and one for The Farm at Doe Run for their St. Malachi Reserve. USA had a total of 133 winners, including 4 Super Gold, 15 Gold, 40 Silver and 74 Bronze awards.
The 4,434 international cheeses were sent to Wales by boat, truck, train, and plane via 19 consolidation points around the world, removing barriers to entry for many artisan cheese producers. Each were closely examined by the panel of judges, featuring cheesemakers, cheesemongers, buyers, chefs, retailers, and writers, to deem if they were worthy of a Bronze, Silver, Gold, or Super Gold award by assessing the look, feel, smell and taste.
The crowds watched on as some of the finest palates in the global cheese community debated the best of the best. Through the judging process, 4,434 became 98 Super Golds and then 16 finalists. These cheeses went on to be re-judged by the International Super Jury, which included Cathy Strange from Whole Foods Market (USA), Patricia Michelson from La Fromagerie (UK), Denis Priimagi from Cheese Kingdom (Ukraine) and Davide Fiori from Luigi Guffanti 1876 (Italy), who put forward their preferred cheeses live on World Cheese TV, which was streamed globally, before crowning this year’s World Champion Cheese.
A Le Gruyère AOP surchoix, entered by Swiss cheesemaker Vorderfultigen and affineur Gourmino, took home the highest accolade of World Champion Cheese. This Le Gruyère AOP surchoix is a matured cheese made from raw cow’s milk which is full-bodied with a slightly crumbly texture. It was described as a “really perfect handcrafted cheese, smooth in your mouth and melting on your tongue” by the Super Jury member Christian Zuercher from Mifroma.
John Farrand, managing director of the Guild of Fine Food, organisers of the World Cheese Awards, comments: “What a finale. This year’s World Cheese Awards has been a huge success and Wales has been the perfect canvas for this colourful event. We’ve seen more entries than ever before and it’s great to see such a range of styles and regions represented. To crown Le Gruyère AOP surchoix as this year’s World Champion Cheese is so well deserved. The judges in the room today, our cheese experts from all over the world, were clearly blown away by the quality of the cheese and dedication shown by the cheesemakers.
“I’d like to thank our judges, sponsors and partners, particularly the Welsh Government, for all their continued support and for helping this year’s awards to be bigger and better than ever before, giving the global cheese community a day of well-earned celebration.”
This year’s World Cheese Awards was the 34th edition and has seen more entries than ever before with a record-breaking 4,434 cheeses submitted from 42 countries and 900 companies from around the globe (10.9% UK based, 89.1% international).
All entries were judged in a single day, as 250 experts from 38 different nations studied their appearance, texture, aroma, and flavour. Bronze, Silver, Gold, and Super Gold accolades were awarded during the morning session before the Super Golds were reassessed to find this year’s top 16 cheeses and this year’s World Champion Cheese.
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