Sinodun Hill by Oxfordshire-based cheese producer Norton and Yarrow Cheese has been awarded Best British Cheese at the 2023 World Cheese Awards at the Trondheim Spektrum indoor arena in Trondheim, Norway.
Organised by the Guild of Fine Food, the World Cheese Awards is the world’s largest cheese-only event of its kind and saw 4,502 cheeses from 43 countries across the globe go head-to-head to be crowned the cream of the crop.
Sinodun Hill is a soft, mould-ripened pasteurised goats’ milk cheese with a Geotrichum rind. Made with vegetarian rennet and matured for 1 to 3 weeks. The British trophy sponsor was Hâute Fromagerie.
Other notable wins for the United Kingdom included Super Golds for Cornish Kern from Lynher Dairies Cheese Company, Devon Blue from Ticklemore Cheese, Wigmore from Village Maid Cheese, and Allerdale from Thornby Moor Dairy. In total, the UK was awarded 5 Super Gold, 19 Gold, 34 Silver and 39 Bronze awards.
Each of the 4,502 cheeses was tasted and assessed by a panel of leading cheese experts, including cheesemongers, journalists, retail buyers, chefs, cheese production and maturation specialists.
Each cheese was meticulously evaluated, considering factors such as the appearance of the rind and paste, the cheese’s aroma, body, texture, and most notably, its flavour and mouthfeel.
Through the detailed blind-judging process, 4,502 cheeses were whittled down to 100 Super Golds, from which 16 finalists were put forward to be re-judged by an International Super Jury for the World Cheese Award to determine an overall winner: the World Champion Cheese for 2023.
The crowds watched on as some of the finest palates in the global cheese community debated the best of the best. The international Super Jury judging the final stage of proceedings consisted of 16 cheese experts from across the globe who tasted the final 16 in front of a live audience and broadcast on World Cheese TV before crowning this year’s World Champion Cheese, Nidelven Blå from Gangstad Gårdsysteri from Norway, a handmade, blue mould cheese made with pasteurised cows’ milk.
The Super Jury panel of experts assessing the final stage of the competition included, amongst others, Cathy Strange from Whole Foods Market in the USA, Peter Mårtensson from Swedish retailer Möllans Ost, Mansi Jasani from The Cheese Collective in India, Jon Thrupp from Mons Cheesemongers in the UK, and Aki Sakagami from the Cheese Professional Association in Japan.
John Farrand, managing director of the Guild of Fine Food, organisers of the World Cheese Awards, said: “The annual pilgrimage to the World Cheese Awards never disappoints. We’ve more entries than ever before, but I get more excited about the diversity in the nations represented and the breadth of style and cheesemaking techniques from across the planet.
“The judges, who are cheese experts from all over the world, were clearly impressed by the quality of the cheese and innovation shown by the cheesemakers. To be able to select the best of the best international cheeses is an honour, and I would like to congratulate every producer who’s taken home an award.
“Norway has been the perfect host location for this event which has to be seen to be believed. I’d also like to thank our judges, sponsors and partners, for their continued support and for helping this year’s awards to be bigger and better than ever before, giving the global cheese community a day or two of well-earned celebration.”
A remarkable 4,502 cheeses were submitted for the 35th edition of the World Cheese Awards, marking a 6% increase from the previous year. These entries represented 43 countries and garnered participation from 954 companies, of which 7.23% were UK-based and 92.77% international.
Notably, the competition featured return entries from relative newcomer entrants in recent years, including Poland, India, Liechtenstein and Turkey, amongst others.
Well-established cheese-producing nations such as Italy, Spain, France, and the United Kingdom were well represented by both returning contenders and newcomers, with the highest number of entries coming from Spain.
Host country Norway put forward their highest-ever number of entries, with 293 Norwegian cheeses competing this year. Across the competition, a vast range of styles and maturations were on display, showcasing a diverse array of milks, including buffalo’s, cows’, goats’ and sheep’s.
All entries were judged in a single day, as 264 experts from 38 nations studied their appearance, texture, aroma, and flavour.
Bronze, Silver, Gold, and Super Gold accolades were awarded during the morning session before the Super Golds were reassessed to find this year’s top 16 cheeses, from which the World Champion Cheese for 2023 was selected and crowned.
Norton and Yarrow’s cheese is available from a number of local Oxfordshire delis, farm shops and cheese shops, including Jericho Cheese Company and 2 North Parade in Oxford, and Sandy Lane Farm Shop in Thame.