Montagnolo Affiné is Germany’s first World Cheese Awards champion
Germany has done the double in the 2013 World Cheese Awards by taking first and second place with the same cheese: a creamy blue Montagnolo Affiné made by Kaserei Champignon in Bavaria.
The cheese beat two English Stiltons that had made it into the final 15 out of more than 2,700 entries in this year’s awards, staged on Wednesday November 27 at the BBC Good Food Show in Birmingham.
It is the first time a German cheese has taken the top prize in the 25 year history of the World Cheese Awards, which is run by the UK’s Guild of Fine Food and is the biggest international competition of its kind.
Unknown to the judges, Montagnolo Affiné had been entered by UK representative Elite Imports Ltd into both the blue cheese section of the awards and a new category for cheeses that have already won major international competitions. In 2012 the cheese was named Supreme Champion at the Nantwich International Cheese Show.
More than 250 cheese experts gathered at the NEC to whittle 2,777 entries down to just 58 ‘SuperGold’ cheeses in the space of a morning’s judging, as well as awarding bronze, silver and gold medals to nearly 700 well-crafted cheeses. The SuperGolds were then re-tasted by a panel of 16 expert judges representing 13 nations, including Australia, France, Mexico and the US before they voted to select the Supreme Champion.
David Gremmels of Rogue Creamery in the USA, one of the final judges, described the Montagnolo Affiné as “a brilliant blue”. “You get a sweet, creamy flavour, a medium spiciness from the blueing, and the rind melts beautifully into the paste.”
Louis Aird of Canada’s Saputo Dairy Products said it was a blue for people who don’t think they like blue cheeses. “We are blue cheese producers ourselves, and I would love to be able to make a blue like this. As soon as I put it in my mouth I thought, ‘Wow, this is a champion’.’’
Third place this year went to a Le Gruyère AOP Premier Cru from Cremo Von Muhlenen, which was just one point behind Montagnolo Affiné in the final voting. Le Gruyère AOP is the only cheese to have topped the World Cheese Awards on three occasions.
Controversy surrounded this year’s awards after the Guild of Fine Food, was refused permission to bring in cheeses from countries including South Africa, Brazil, and Japan, apparently on public health grounds.
Despite this, 2013’s competition attracted a near-record level of entries, with 79% coming from overseas.