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Esquirrou Named 2018 World Champion Cheese

A hard sheep’s milk cheese called Esquirrou, made in France at Mauleon Fromagerie by Michel Touyarou and imported by Savencia Cheese USA of New Holland, Pennsylvania has been named the 2018 World Champion Cheese.

Earning an impressive score of 98.376 out of 100, Esquirrou (pronounced ehs-keer-oo) bested a record-breaking 3,402 entries in the 2018 contest. Esquirrou is crafted in the Pyrénées region of France, aged no less than 90 days, and features nutty notes and a toasted wheat aroma.

First runner-up in the contest, with a score of 98.267, is Arzberger Ursteirer, a hard cow’s milk cheese aged in a silver mine made by Franz Moestl and Team of Almenland Stollenkäse in Austria. Mont Vully Bio, a raw milk cheese washed with Pinot Noir wine, made by Ewald Schafer of Fromagerie Schafer in Switzerland earned the second runner-up position with a score of 98.256.

“We salute World Championship Cheese Contest winners for their innovation and commitment to excellence in their craft,” said John Umhoefer, Executive Director for the Wisconsin Cheese Makers Association, which hosts the biennial competition.
A total of 26 nations were represented in the 2018 World Championship Cheese Contest, and U.S. cheesemakers dominated the competition, earning gold medals in 87 of the 121 contest classes. Switzerland came in second with nine golds, and cheesemakers in Netherlands earned seven golds.

Among American states, Wisconsin dominated the competition with 47 gold medals. Idaho, New York, and Vermont tied in the state rankings with six gold medals. Cheesemakers in New Jersey earned four top spots.

The World Championship Cheese Contest, initiated in 1957, is the largest technical cheese, butter, and yogurt competition in the world. A team of 56 internationally-renowned judges technically evaluated all entries over the three-day competition held in Madison, Wisconsin.

For more information on the contest, as well as complete results for all entry classes and contest photos, visit

Nielsen-Massey Unveils No Sugar Added Vanilla Extracts and Line of Organic Pure Flavor Extracts

Nielsen-Massey Vanillas is introducing No Sugar Added versions of its Madagascar Bourbon Pure Vanilla Extract and Pure Vanilla Extract at Natural Products Expo West. These extracts will be available in 2-, 4-, 32-ounce and gallon bottles.

Nielsen-Massey is also bringing out four new organic pure flavor products. The new products include Organic Peppermint Extract, Organic Almond Extract, Organic Lemon Extract and Organic Orange Extract. Each flavor will be available in 2-, 4-, 18-ounce and gallon bottles.

For more than 110 years, Nielsen-Massey Vanillas has been a leading purveyor of high-quality pure and natural vanillas and flavors. With more than a century’s worth of experience in creating and perfecting custom blends and flavors, the third-generation family company uses a proprietary cold extraction process to ensure more than 300 flavors are preserved in its vanilla extracts.

“This year we are pleased to offer a strong supply of vanilla and flavor products to our customers,” said Kirk Trofholz, Nielsen-Massey’s Chief Executive Officer. “As one of the industry’s most innovative thought leaders, we are well-attuned to the growing demand for no sugar added and organic food products. In response, we are introducing several new products to answer customers’ call and give them more choices.”

No Sugar Added Madagascar Bourbon Pure Vanilla Extract has the same rich flavor as our Madagascar Bourbon Pure Vanilla Extract, without the addition of sugar. It is produced from premium, hand-selected beans cultivated in Madagascar, the world’s leading supplier of the highest quality vanilla. It’s the perfect all-purpose vanilla for its flavor and consistency in both hot and cold applications, including baking, roasting and grilling.

No Sugar Added Pure Vanilla Extract features a proprietary blend of premium beans from select regions and uses our exclusive cold extraction process to draw out more than 300 flavor components found within each bean. It is ideal for both sweet and savory dishes.

Organic Peppermint Extract is crafted from the finest mint grown in the Midwest. Perfect for flavoring teas and complementing chocolate in cakes, icings and ice cream. For a refreshing delight, add it to savory dishes such as pork, lamb and poultry.

Organic Almond Extract is one of the most popular flavors used in baking. Bitter almond oil is made of stone fruit grown in California, South Carolina and Georgia. Pair it with vanilla, chocolate, maple or butterscotch, or use it sparingly to accent salad dressings, sauces, custards or ice cream.

Organic Lemon Extract is produced from California lemon oil rounded out with peel notes. It pairs well with fish, pork and chicken dishes, and blends with a variety of herbs. Use it to add a splash of citrus to beverages, vegetables, cakes, cookies, frozen desserts, jams, pies, pastries and more.

Organic Orange Extract is bright, sunny and refreshing. The extract is produced using rich, juicy orange oils from Florida balanced with notes from sweet, wild West Indies orange oil. It’s the perfect partner for savory dishes like rice, chicken and fish as well as fruits, jams, marmalades, salad dressings and desserts.

Five Wisconsin Cheesemakers Named Finalists at 2018 World Championship Cheese Contest

For the past two days, a judging pool of 53 cheese graders, dairy scientists and industry experts from around the world have sampled cheeses from 26 countries and 32 states, narrowing down a list of 3,402 entries to 20 finalists.

Five Wisconsin cheeses, including two from Master Cheesemaker Mike Matucheski of Sartori Cheese, are in consideration to be named the 2018 Grand Champion. Wisconsin finalists include:

English Hollow Cheddar
Class 4: Cheddar, Aged One to Two Years
Maker: Maple Leaf Cheesemaking Team
Maple Leaf Cheesemakers, Inc.
Monroe, Wisconsin
Maple Leaf English Hollow Cheddar is aged at least 12 months to develop a complex, nutty flavor.

Mild Gouda
Class 39: Mild Gouda
Maker: Eric Steltenpohl
Saxon Cheese, LLC
Cleveland, Wisconsin
Saxon Gouda has a creamy, smooth texture and sweet, rich milky flavor. 

Sartori Reserve Espresso BellaVitano
Class 69: Open Class: Flavored Cheeses with Sweet or ‘Dessert’ Condiments
Maker: Mike Matucheski
Sartori Company
Antigo, Wisconsin
Wheels of Sartori Espresso BellaVitano® are hand-rubbed with freshly roasted espresso adding a sweet finish to the cheese.

Cave Aged Chandoka
Class 102: Surface (Mold) Ripened Mixed Milk Cheeses
Maker: David Rogers and Team LaClare
LaClare Family Creamery
Malone, Wisconsin
Bandage-wrapped in linen and aged for a minimum of six months, this cow and goat milk cheddar is bold, tangy and fruity.

Sartori Limited Edition Pastorale Blend
Class 103: Hard Mixed Milk Cheeses
Mike Matucheski and Erin Radtke
Sartori Company
Antigo, Wisconsin
Sartori Pastorale Blend® is made with cow’s and sheep’s milk. The wheels are hand-dusted with paprika resulting in a creamy, earthly flavor and slightly smoky finish. 

The 2018 Grand Champion will be announced at 8:15 p.m. CT this evening at the Monona Terrace in Madison, Wisconsin. The announcement can be viewed via Facebook Live on World Championship Cheese Contest Facebook Page.

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