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Record-breaking World Cheese Awards 2016 in San Sabastián

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_mg_1061The final Super Jury named Kraftkar, made by Norwegian producer Tingvollost, as the World Champion Cheese 2016.  The International Cheese Festival took place at the Kursaal Congress Centre in San Sebastián from 16-18 November 2016. For more information, visit www.internationalcheesefestival.eus.

The inaugural International Cheese Festival, the world’s largest cheese-only awards scheme saw a record number of entries in this the 9th ann at the 29th annual World Cheese Awards.


 Harbison, a soft-ripened cheese with a bloomy rind from the Cellars at Jasper Hill, was been revealed as the Best American Cheese  following over 3,000 cheeses being judged in a single day at the Kursaal Congress Centre in San Sebastián.  The USA earned a total of two Super Gold, 11 Gold, 32 Silver and 47 Bronze awards this year.

wca16-20-copyAmong the other USA winners were a Super Gold winning Leelanau Raclette from Leelanau Cheese Company and a Gold winning Shepsog from Grafton Village Cheese Company.

Drawing entries from 31 different countries, from Australia to Italy and Mexico to Mozambique, cheese of all shapes and sizes made their way by bicycle, boat, plane, train, truck and car to the Kursaal Congress Centre in San Sebastián, via 12 consolidation points in all corners of the globe.  Cheese experts numbering 266 from 26 different nations also arrived in the Basque Country to taste, nose and grade over 3,000 cheeses in a single day, giving Bronze, Silver, Gold and Super Gold awards to worthy entries.


 Click on the following links to access details of this year’s Top 16 Super Gold cheesesand the Top 66 Super Gold cheeses.

World Cheese Awards 2016 Fact Sheet

  • The World Cheese Awards is organised by the Guild of Fine Food
  • 2016 is the 29th year of the competition
  • The planet’s biggest ‘cheese-only’ competition – no yoghurt, cream, butter or other dairy
  • 3,021 cheeses from 31 different countries entered – including Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Bulgaria, Canada, Croatia, Cyprus, Denmark, England, Estonia, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Mexico, Mozambique, the Netherlands, Northern Ireland, Norway, Portugal, Romania, Scotland, Slovakia, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, the USA and Wales
  • 266 judges from around the world travelled from 26 different countries to ‘nose’ and taste the cheese
  • Judging broadcasted live on World Cheese TV
  • A Super Jury of 16 judges decided the final winning World Champion Cheese

carlos-yescas-wcaJudges work in teams of four, identifying any cheeses worthy of a bronze, silver, gold – or no award. They are looking at the rind and the body of the cheese, its colour, texture, consistency and, above all, its taste.

Each of the 66 teams then nominates one exceptional cheese as the Super Gold from their table. These 66 cheeses are the best in the world and are judged a second time by the Super Jury of 16 internationally recognised experts, who will each select a cheese to champion in the final round of judging.

The Super Jury then debates the final 16 in front of a live consumer and trade audience, before choosing the World Champion Cheese live on World Cheese TV, with cheese lovers across the globe tuning in for the drama.

cathy-strangeThe final judging panel, made up of top names from the world of cheese, featuring cheese makers, buyers, retailers and writers. They included Suzy O’Regan from Woolworths Foods in South Africa, Cathy Strange from Whole Foods in the USA (shown above) , Roland Barthélemy, President of Guilde des Fromagers in France, and Mary Quicke from Quicke’s in the UK. The group debated the top 16 cheeses in front of a trade and consumer audience, broadcast live on World Cheese TV, before crowning this year’s World Champion Cheese.

 International Cheese Festival 2016 was the most important gastronomic celebration in Donostia San Sebastián during its tenure as European Capital of Culture.  The World Cheese Awards 2016 was organised within the framework of this festival.

The main goal of the festival was to promote and strengthen productive vocations linked to artisan cheese production, jointly boosting culture, gastronomy and tourism in the Basque Country.  Participants in the festival included PDO cheese producers from Spain and internationally renowned chefs, as well as artisans, universities and companies in the cheese and gastronomic industry. The festival was open to all, allowing the public to participate in this unprecedented celebration of cheese.

The International Cheese Festival brought artisan-produced cheeses to a global audience of professionals, along with the highest quality gastronomic and cultural experiences, from tastings and workshops to conferences and other activities, promoting coexistence and supporting the hard work of artisan producers. Spaces were also available to do business among different producers and buyers.

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