World Cheese Awards
The world’s largest cheese-only event, the World Cheese Awards, came to a tense finale last Wednesday November 2nd 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.
Sponsored by Hâute Fromagerie, the trophy for Best British Cheese went to Village Maid Cheese for Spenwood. An unpasteurised hard-pressed ewe's milk cheese made in Berkshire, the cheese has a natural rind and is matured for nine months.
British cheeses scooped 148 awards this year, including 11 Super Gold, 24 Gold, 56 Silver and 57 Bronze awards.
Other notable wins included Errington Cheese winning the award for Best Scottish Cheese, which was sponsored by Rennet & Rind, for their Blackmount.
Best Welsh Cheese, which was sponsored by Food & Drink Wales, went to Caws Cenarth for Thelma’s Traditional Welsh Caerffili.
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.
Alongside the World Cheese Awards, the Guild of Fine Food also announced the recipient of its prestigious Exceptional Contribution to Cheese award. This year, the honour went to La Fromagerie’s Patricia Michelson, whose love of cheese began up a mountain whilst she was skiing in Meribel, France. She returned to London with a wheel of Beaufort Chalet d’Alpage, which she sold from her garden shed, graduating to a stall in Camden market a year later. La Fromagerie now comprises three award-winning shops in central London; situated in Marylebone, Highbury, and Bloomsbury, with the first one opening in 1992. Each location features the La Fromagerie’s signature cheese room and tasting café. In 2011, Patricia moved the businesses’ wholesale department offsite to specially designed cellars where most of the affinage takes place. Patricia has also had two award-winning books published, ‘The Cheese Room’; a contemporary book about cheese using recipes and anecdotes to introduce the reader to the world of cheese, and CHEESE; a book where she talks about her ‘unsung heroes’ - the many small independent cheese producers from around the globe that supply her - from the British Devon countryside to the Savoie in France and the Lombardy hills of Tuscany. A regular judge at the World Cheese Awards, Patricia was honoured by her fellow judges and industry colleagues at the annual World Cheese Awards judges’ dinner that took place after judging at the ICCW on 2 November.
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. Keep up to date on socials: @guildoffinefood #WorldCheeseAwards