Dutch style cheeses have taken out the top awards at this year's New Zealand Champions of Cheese Awards.
A Dutch-style cheese made in Akaroa - Aged Gouda by Barrys Bay Traditional Cheese - won the coveted Countdown Champion of Champions Award for large cheese producers. Judges said the hand-crafted dairy boasted tropical fruit flavours and was a favourite with the entire panel.
WIN! Cheese lovers read on for your chance to win a double pass to CheeseFest in Auckland tonight!
Dutch-inspired cheese by Jeanne Van Kuyk of Aroha Organic Goat Cheese won the Milk Test NZ Champion Cheesemaker Award. Her company also took out the Tuatara Brewing Champion Goat Cheese Award for its Aroha Raw Milk Rich Plain cheese.
Emigrating from Holland, Van Kuyk now makes award-winning organic, specialty cheese from her own herd of goats on the family's rural Waikato farm.
Completing the Dutch dominance was Very Old Edam produced by Mahoe Farmhouse Cheese - which won the Cuisine Champion Artisan Cheese Award for smaller producers for the third year running.
"This cheese is so good that you don't want to put anything else in your mouth for some time," said head judge Russell Smith.
Over 430 New Zealand specialty cheeses were entered in this year's competition, with winners announced at a gala dinner and awards ceremony at The Langham last night.
The judging panel, made up of 28 of the country's most experienced cheese connoisseurs, was lead by Australiasian expert and educator, Russell Smith.
"New Zealand cheese ranks with the best in the world, with certain styles indisputably world-class," Smith said.
"The diversity of flavour profiles, the quality of cheese making and high presentation of the majority of cheese was fantastic. It's incredibly encouraging to see the bar being raised each year."
* Cheese lovers are given the chance to sample the country's finest at the Cuisine CheeseFest, March 5, from 5pm until 8.30pm. Tickets from $30 at www.eventfinder.co.nz or $35 at the door. Or enter below for your chance to win a double pass.
This competition is now closed.
2014 NZ Champions of Cheese Awards Winners
Countdown Champion of Champions Award: Aged Gouda - Barrys Bay Traditional Cheese
Cuisine Champion Artisan Cheese Award: Very Old Edam - Mahoe Farmhouse Cheese
Milk Test NZ Champion Cheesemaker: Jeanne Van Kuyk - Aroha Organic Goat Cheese
The Langham Champion Fresh Unripened Cheese Award: Stracchino - Emilio's Cheese
NZSCA Champion Feta Cheese Award Classic Feta - Zany Zeus
Innovative Packaging Champion Soft White Rind Cheese Award: OMG Double Delight - Over The Moon Dairy Company
Tuatara Brewing Champion Goat Cheese Award: Aroha Raw Milk Rich Plain - Aroha Organic Goat Cheese
NZ Chefs Association Champion Sheep Cheese Award: Mercer Pecorino - Mercer Cheese
Thermaflo Champion Washed Rind Cheese Award Galactic Gold - Over The Moon Dairy Company
Ecolab Champion Blue Cheese Award: Kapiti Kikorangi - Fonterra Brands NZ
Eurofins Champion European Style Cheese Award: Havarti - Talbot Forest Cheese
AsureQuality Champion Dutch Style Cheese Award: Gouda Vintage - Karikaas Natural Dairy Products
Ministry for Primary Industries Champion New Cheese Award: Vintage Cumin Gouda - Meyer Gouda Cheese
Fonterra Champion Original Cheese Award: Flat White - Crescent Dairy Goats
Stoneleigh Latitude Champion Flavoured Cheese Award: Scamoza Affumicate - Italian Cheeses
Kiwi Labels Champion Cheddar Cheese Award: Kapiti Tuteremoana Cheddar - Fonterra Brands NZ
Kiwibank Champion Export Award: Kapiti Kahurangi Creamy Blue - Fonterra Brands NZ
New World Champion Favourite Cheese Award: Kapiti Kikorangi - Fonterra Brands
Caspak Champion Cheese Packaging Award: Dairyworks Kids Range - Dairyworks
Curds & Whey Champion Home Crafted Cheese Award: Formaggio di Latte Fresco - Aglio
Curds & Whey Champion Home Crafted Cheesemaker Award: Bri DiMattina