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wo New Zealand cheesemakers of Dutch origin have stepped
outside their traditions with two new cheeses that have claimed
the top prizes at the 2017 NZ Champions of Cheese Awards.
The Smoked Goat Gouda by Meyer Gouda Cheese was
judged as the Countdown Champion of Champions (Commercial),
and Fifty Fifty by Mercer Cheese was awarded as the Puhoi Valley
Champion of Champions (Artisan).
Both Meyer Gouda Cheese and Mercer Cheese are from the Waikato
and both have won top honours in the past with traditional Dutch style
cheeses. This year it is their innovation with new cheeses that has set
them apart from the hundreds of entr ies submitted for judging.
Both the Champion of Champions cheeses were gold medallists in
the Ministry for Primary Industries New Cheese category.
The best New Zealand cheeses were judged by an unprecedented
contingent of 34 inter national and local cheese experts, from more than
370 entr ies. The twenty-one category winners were announced at a
gala dinner at the NZ Champions of Cheese Awards, held at the Grand
Millennium in Auckland on 14 March following a marathon two-day
cheese tasting competition.
Master Judge and Australian cheese guru Russell Smith said Dutch Kiwis
have a growing reputation for making inspirational cheeses with New
Zealand milks. “The 2017 champions are great examples of this expertise.
“The Smoked Goat Gouda by Meyer Gouda Cheese is an absolutely
gorgeous goat cheese, and a pleasure to eat, it has a smooth creamy
texture that delights the palate with sweet and mild piquant flavours,”
Smith was also clearly impressed
with Fifty Fifty by Mercer Cheese,
describing it as “a beautifully aged
gouda, with complex sweet and
savoury flavours coming from the
combination of cow and goat milk.”
A rare cheese, Mercer Cheese
only makes it on occasional years
when the last of the summer milks
are r ight for this type of Gouda to
be produced, and then aged.
2017 was notable for the
inclusion of three new cheese
companies enter ing into the awards,
including Winsam Far m. This new
player to the cheese scene produced
an incredible feat, scor ing a perfect
100 for their Just Ewe Winsam
Far mhouse cheese.The result lead its cheesemaker Cather ine Oakley of
Winsam Far m to be named the Cheesemaker Of The Year (Milk Test
NZ Champion Cheesemaker), with her first ever entry.
Just Ewe Winsam Far mhouse was also the NZ Chefs Association
Champion Sheep Cheese. Russell Smith descr ibed the outstanding
cheese as “a semi hard sheep cheese with a delightful texture and feel in
the mouth. It’s delicate savour y and mildly spicy flavours finish off this
delightful newcomer to the New Zealand cheese scene.”
While new cheeses dominated the top three prizes of the night, 2017
saw a popular Kiwi blue cheese take out a number of categor ies. Kapiti
Kikorangi from Fonter ra Brands NZ won the Ecolab Champion Blue
Cheese Award, the Renco New Zealand Export Cheese Award and
Fonter ra Champion Original Cheese Award.
Officially the most decorated blue cheese in Awards history, Kapiti
Kikorangi was descr ibed by judges as a truly exceptional and distinctive
cheese. “The ver y seductive creamy texture of this cheese is combined
with sweet, spicy blue flavours,” Smith says.
Another Kapiti blue also secured the public vote once again, to win
the New World Champion Favour ite Cheese Award – a competition
where New World shoppers had the opportunity to judge their
personal favour ite. The Kapiti Kahurangi Creamy Blue from Fonter ra
Brands NZ proved the winner for the second year running in the
public vote, owing to its delightfully smooth texture, delicate blue
veining, and mild savoury flavour.
“The people have spoken,” Smith said, commenting on the developing
sophistication of New Zealanders’ palate in selecting such a full flavoured
cheese as their favour ite.
Another notable win from a
classic Kiwi cheesemaker, Puhoi
Valley Cheese, was the Puhoi Valley
Feta which was awarded the Kiwi
Labels Champion Feta Cheese
Award. Puhoi Valley Cheese also
went home with the Ther maflo
Champion Washed Rind Cheese
Award with the Puhoi Valley Cellar
Range Washed Rind.Three of the
four golds awarded to washed rind
cheeses went to Puhoi Valley Cheese.
Now in its 14th year, the NZ
Champions of Cheese Awards are
held annually by the NZ Specialist
Cheese Association, to honour
excellence in cheese making. n
AT NZ CHAMPIONS OF CHEESE AWARDS
20 | April 2017 | Hospitality BUSINESS
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