MADISON, Wis. (WBAY) - Wisconsin has lost its title in the World Champion Cheese Contest to France, despite having five cheeses from the Dairy State named as finalists.
Esquirrou took the crown at the competition in Madison this week. It's described as a hard sheep's milk cheese "aged no less than 90 days, and features nutty notes and a toasted wheat aroma." It earned a score of 98.376 out of a possible 100.
The cheese was produced at Mauleon Fromagerie in the Pyrénées region of France. It's imported by Savencia Cheese USA of Pennsylvania.
Esquirrou had to beat a record-setting 3,402 entries from 26 nations in the contest, which is hosted every two years by the Wisconsin Cheese Makers Association.
First runner-up was Ursteirer from Austria, a hard cow's milk cheese aged in a silver mine. Second runner-up was Mont Vully Bio, a Swiss raw milk cheese washed with Pinot Noir wine.
Despite not winning the top honors, U.S. cheese makers dominated the leaderboard, taking home 87 gold medals out of 121 categories. Forty-seven of those gold medals went to Wisconsin cheese makers.
Five of the finalists for the grand champion were products of Wisconsin:
- English Hollow Cheddar from Maple Leaf Cheesemakers of Monroe
- Mild Gouda from Saxon Cheese of Cleveland
- Sartori Reserve Espresso BellaVitano by Sartori Company of Antigo
- Cave Aged Chandoka by LaClare Family Creamery of Malone
- Sartori Limited Edition Pastorale Blend by Sartori Company of Antigo
Wisconsin gold medalists
Cheddar, aged 1 to 2 years: Maple Leaf Cheesemakers, Monroe, Wis.
Traditional Waxed Cheddar: Springside Cheese Corp., Oconto Falls, Wis.
Natural Rinded Cheddar: Door Artisan Cheese Company, Egg Harbor, Wis.
Colby: Arena Cheese, Arena, Wis.
Marbled Curd Cheese: Colby Jack by AMPI, Wisconsin
Provolone, aged: Foremost Farms, Clayton, Wis.
Provolone, smoked: Agropur, Luxemburg, Wis.
Parmesan: BelGioioso Cheese, Green Bay, Wis.
Fresh Asiago: Whole-milk fresh style aged 5 months by Saxon Creamery, Cleveland, Wis.
Feta: Agropur, Weyauwega, Wis.
Brick, muenster: Klondike Cheese Co., Monroe, Wis.
Havarti: Edelweiss Creamery, Monticello, Wis.
Havarti, flavored: Arla Foods, Kaukauna, Wis.
String Cheese: Whole milk, hand stretched by Cesar's Cheese, Random Lake, Wis.
Gorgonzola: CreamyGorg by BelGioioso Cheese, Green Bay, Wis.
Gouda, mild: Aged 3 months by Saxon Cheese, Cleveland, Wis.
Gouda, flavored: Onion garlic by Marieke Gouda, Thorp, Wis.
Smoked Gouda: Aged 8 months by Saxon Cheese, Cleveland, Wis.
Brie: Triple cream by Lactalis, Belmont, Wis.
Pepper Flavored Cheeses, mild heat: Hatch Pepper Cheddar by Saputo Cheese, Milwaukee, Wis.
Pepper Flavored Cheeses, high heat: Roth Chipotle Havarti Loaf by Emmi Roth USA, Monroe, Wis.
Latin American Style Melting Cheeses: Oaxaca Cheese Ball by Chula Vista Cheese Col/V&V Supremo Foods, Browntown, Wis.
Paneer: Specialty Cheese Co., Reeseville, Wis.
Soft Cheeses: Mascarpone by BelGioioso Cheese, Green Bay, Wis.
Semi-Soft (Semi-Hard) Cheeses: Butterkase by Alpinecheese, Wisconsin
Flavored Soft Cheeses: Marinated Fresh Mozzarella by Crave Brothers Farmstead Cheese, Waterloo, Wis.
Flavored Cheeses with Sweet or Dessert Condiments: Sartori Reserve Espresso BellaVitano by Sartori Company, Antigo, Wis.
Flavored Hard Cheeses: Rosemary Asiago by Saputo Cheese, Milwaukee, Wis.
Smoked Soft and Semi-Soft (Semi-Hard) Cheeses: Smoked Fontina by Maple Leaf Cheesemakers, Monroe, Wis.
Smoked Hard Cheeses: Smoked Ched by Meister Cheese, Muscoda, Wis.
Lowfat Cheeses: Odyssey Low Fat Feta by Klondike Cheese, Monroe, Wis.
Cold Pack Cheese, cheese food: Extra Sharp Cheddar Cold Pack by Pine River Pre-pack, Newton, Wis.
Cold Pack Cheese Spread: Pepper Jack Cold Pack Cheese Spread by Pine River Pre-Pack, Newton, Wis.
Spreadable Natural Cheeses, flavored: Hazelnut Cream Cheese Spread by Schreiber Foods, Green Bay, Wis.
Pasteurized Process Cheeses: Colored American Past Process Cheese Loaf by Associated Milk Producers Inc., Portage, Wis.
Flavored Soft and Semi-Soft (Semi-Hard) Sheep's Milk Cheeses: Driftless Cranberry Cinnamon by Hidden Springs Creamery, Westby, Wis.
Hard Sheep's Milk Cheeses, 9 months or longer: Smooth, Mellow Old World Flavor Fall 2016 by Eckerman Sheep Company, Antigo, Wis.
Surface (Mold) Ripened Mixed Milk Cheeses: Cave Aged Chandoka NZ Chedd Style Mixed by LaClare Family Creamery, Malone, Wis.
Hard Mixed Milk Cheeses: Sartori Limited Edition Pastorale Blend by Sartori Company, Antigo, Wis.
Flavored Butter: Garlic and Basil Butter by Nordic Creamery, Westby, Wis.
Lowfat Yogurt, cow's milk: Rhubarb by Yodelay Yogurt, Madison, Wis.
Flavored High Protein, cow's milk: Odyssey Greek Yogurt (Peach), Klondike Cheese, Monroe, Wis.
Yogurt, all other milks: LaClare Farms Great Milk Yogurt (Blueberry) by LaClare Farms, Malone, Wis.
Drinkable Cultured Products, all flavors/all milks: Pineapple by Yodelay Yogurt, Madison, Wis.
Open Class Shredded Cheese Blends, flavored and unflavored: Gourmet Cheddar Blend by Masters Gallery Foods, Plymouth, Wis.
Prepared Cheese Foods: Chipotle Cheese Breads by Carr Valley Cheese, La Valle, Wis.
Natural Snack Cheese: Fresh Mozzarella Snacking Cheese by BelGioioso Cheese, Green Bay, Wis.