Fanaost, an aged gouda made by Norwegian cheesemaker, Ostegården, has been named World Champion Cheese at the 31st edition of the World Cheese Awards in Bergen, Norway. Produced from a herd of just 12 cows on a farm less than 20km from Bergen, Fanaost rose to the top among a record breaking 3,472 entries judged in a single day at the city’s iconic Grieg Hall.
This truly artisan cheese stood out at every stage of the blind tasting process on Friday, as the competition visited Norway for the first time to form part of the brand new food festival, Matnasjonen Norge, in partnership with HANEN. Beating finalists from countries including Italy, France, Israel and South Africa in the final 16, cheesemaker Jørn Hafslund was in attendance to claim his trophy and receive a rapturous reception from the home crowd.
Having taken this year’s top prize at the largest cheese-only competition on the planet, Ostegården now joins a select group of cheesemakers to have earned this prestigious accolade over the past three decades.
The aged gouda was awarded 71 points out of a possible 80 by the Super Jury of 16 judges, ahead of two cheeses in joint-second place with 65 points; Agour Pur Brebis AOP Ossau Iraty from France, made by Fromagerie Agour and entered by QST International Limited; and Helfeit, Brun Geitost – Tinntradisjon, a traditional brown goat’s cheese from Norway, made by Stordalen Gardsbruk.
Records were broken across the board this year, as more nations than ever before entered cheeses into the world’s biggest cheese-only event. Representing 41 different countries, entries made their way by boat, truck, train and plane via 12 consolidation points around the world, from places including Brazil, Kenya, New Zealand, Russia, South Africa and the USA. 235 judges from 30 countries then tasted, nosed and graded cheeses from six continents, giving Bronze, Silver, Gold and Super Gold awards to worthy entries.
As 3,472 eventually became 16, the crowds then watched on as the International Super Jury debated the world’s top cheese. Made up of the finest palates from the international cheese community, this year’s panel featured cheese makers, cheesemongers, buyers, chefs, retailers and writers. Judges including José Pizarro, critically acclaimed Spanish chef, Cathy Strange, global executive coordinator for Whole Foods Market in the USA, Claus Meyer, co-founder of Noma in Denmark, and Carlos Yescas, author and cheesemonger from Mexico, all put forward their chosen cheeses live on World Cheese TV, before crowning this year’s World Champion Cheese.