Though a Brie made the list of the “Top 16 Finalists,” it was a Vermeer Gouda from the Netherlands that won best in show at the 2012 World Championship Cheese Contest (and thus allowing for the charming title of this piece). All puns aside, this year’s World Championship Cheese Contest (WCCC), made headlines all around the world and marks another year of a cornerstone cheese competition.
Held in Madison’s Monona Terrace, the competition featured 82 classes and a record 2,500 + entries from around the world. The three-day contest culminated in the naming of FrieslandCampina’s Vermeer, a low-fat Gouda, best in show. Besides surprising some by having a cheese from the Netherlands beat out the dominant Swiss in the competition (the Swiss have won the previous three years in a row), the cheese was also the first ever reduced-fat cheese to win the title of “Best in Show.”
According to a press release from the Wisconsin Cheese Makers Association, the event was judged by an international panel comprised of industry experts from 17 nations. Judges included industry leaders, academics, graders, engineers, etc. New this year was a potential indicator of the continued rising popularity of the artisan cheese industry, a ticketed cheese tasting event. Though as organizer Jeanne Carpenter discussed, the notion of selling one ticket a decade ago would have been unheard of, the event sold out its 400 tickets for the public-tasting, where attendees were able to sample top finalists’ creations.
Held every two years, you can learn more about this Wisconsin event on their website, and check out information on how to get your cheese or palate involved in the next competition.