An American cheese has been named world champion for the first time.
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Rogue River Blue, from southern Oregon cheesemaker Rogue Creamery, was declared the world’s best cheese of 2019 at the World Cheese Awards in Italy in October, according to contest organizer the Guild of Fine Food
The organic blue cheese beat out a record 3,803 other cheeses in the competition, which is the world’s largest cheese-only contest. Contest judge Bruno Cabral described Rogue’s cheese as a “taste party” with “different sensations, balance, sweet and spicy notes.”
David Gremmels, the owner of Rogue Creamery, said he was “humbled and filled with gratitude” in a press release after the win.
Rogue took the win in a dramatic conclusion after being tied with an Italian cheese at the end of the final judging stage. A tie-breaking vote was required to determine the ultimate winner.
John Farrand, managing director of the Guild of Fine Food, called it “one of the most dramatic finales in World Cheese history.”
“Rogue Creamery has been at the forefront of the U.S. artisan cheese revolution for some years, so it seems very fitting for them to be the first American winners of our World Champion Cheese trophy,” Farrand said in the press release.
Rogue River Blue is made only in the fall when the creamery says its cows’ milk is best. Then it’s aged in caves for 9 to 11 months before being wrapped in pear liqueur-soaked Syrah grape leaves.
Rogue Creamery is selling the cheese on its website for $75 for a 20-ounce quarter wheel or $235 for a 5-pound whole wheel.
This year’s batch was “particularly fine,” according to the creamery.
“The rinds developed beautifully and the flavor is exceptional, exhibiting the fruit, spice, blackberry, vanilla, hazelnut, chocolate and bacon flavors for which this cheese is known,” the creamery wrote.