The US isn’t traditionally considered a powerhouse when it comes to international cheeses, but maybe that’s about to change. At the 32nd annual World Cheese Awards, which took place last Friday in Bergamo, Italy, a cheese native to the US was officially declared the world’s best cheese. The Rogue River Blue Cheese, a product of Rogue Creamery in Oregon, beat out over 3,800 other cheeses from 42 countries around the world, and it’s the first time a cheese from the US has taken the top spot in the competition.
John Farrand, managing director of the Guild of Fine Food, said in a press release, “This year’s top prize was almost too close to call and I would like to congratulate both Rogue Creamery and Nazionale del Parmigiano Reggiano Latteria Sociale Santo Stefano for going the distance and providing us with one of the most dramatic finales in World Cheese history.”
The Rogue River Blue is made with organic cow’s milk from Southern Oregon’s Rogue Valley, and the cheese is cave-aged for nine to 11 months and hand-wrapped in organic Syrah grape leaves soaked in pear liqueur. It was lauded by judge Bruna Cabral for its “different sensations, balance, sweet and spicy notes.”
The Italian cheese referenced by Farrand took second place, a Spanish cheese took third, but only one French cheese landed in the top 15, prompting some indignation among the cheese-loving French.
According to Farrand, however, “We try to celebrate cheeses from around the world, especially those made by smaller artisan cheesemakers. Good cheese is made around the world, not just by the French.”