MADISON, Wis. (WEAU) -- A hard sheep's milk cheese called Esquirrou, made in France at Mauleon Fromagerie by Michel Touyarou and imported by Savencia Cheese USA of New Holland, Pennsylvania has been named the 2018 World Champion Cheese.
Earning a score of 98.376 out of 100, Esquirrou bested a record-breaking 3,402 entries in the 2018 contest. Esquirrou is crafted in the Pyrénées region of France, aged no less than 90 days, and features nutty notes and a toasted wheat aroma.
First runner-up in the contest, with a score of 98.267, is Arzberger Ursteirer, a hard cow's milk cheese aged in a silver mine made by Franz Moestl and Team of Almenland Stollenkäse in Austria.
"We salute World Championship Cheese Contest winners for their innovation and commitment to excellence in their craft," said John Umhoefer, Executive Director for the Wisconsin Cheese Makers Association, which hosts the biennial competition.
A total of 26 nations were represented in the 2018 World Championship Cheese Contest, and U.S. cheesemakers dominated the competition, earning gold medals in 87 of the 121 contest classes. Switzerland came in second with nine golds, and cheesemakers in Netherlands earned seven golds.
Among American states, Wisconsin dominated the competition with 47 gold medals. Idaho, New York, and Vermont tied in the state rankings with six gold medals. Cheesemakers in New Jersey earned four top spots.
The World Championship Cheese Contest, initiated in 1957, is the largest technical cheese, butter, and yogurt competition in the world.
A team of 56 internationally-renowned judges technically evaluated all entries over the three-day competition held in Madison.