For the first time ever, an American cheese has been voted the best in the world

Forget the American love relationship with Cheez Whiz, blocks with Velveeta and pasteurized processed cheese slices.

  One person posing for the camera: Global cheese buyer of Whole Foods Market and World Cheese Awards judges Cathy Strange with the winner. © Tim Johnston Photography
Whole Foods Market global cheese buyer and the World Cheese Awards judge Cathy Strange with the winner.

A cheese from the United States is voted the best cheese in the world.

Rogue River Blue has taken top honors at the World Cheese Awards in 2019, marking the first time an American cheese has ever been named world champion cheese.

An organic blue mustard produced by Rogue Creamery of Central Point, Oregon, Rogue River Blue beat a record 3,804 entries from 42 countries at the awards, held this year in Bergamo, Italy, in mid-October.

About 260 judges from 35 different countries judged the cheeses and restricted the list to a final 16. An international "jury of experts" selected the winners.

In second place came an Italian cheese, the 24-month-old Nazionale del Parmigiano Reggiano Latteria Sociale Santo Stefano. It was followed by a Spanish raw beef meal, Torta del Casar D.O.P. Virgen Del Prado made by Queseria Doña Francisca.

Top honors

Well-known cheese expert Janet Fletcher, who was not involved in the competition, was not surprised by Rogue River Blues victory.

"No one who knows this cheese could be surprised by its strong display," said Fletcher, cookbook author, teacher and publisher of the blog Planet Cheese.

"Rogue River Blue has also triumphed in American competitions. What I admire about it, besides the flavor, is the effort the sour cream has taken to showcase other local ingredients such as vines and pears. It's an attempt to really provide this cheese for a "taste of place."

Rogue Creamery makes its master cheese in the fall, from organic cow's milk from Rogue Valley in southern Oregon. The cheese wheels spend 9 to 11 months in the casserole cheese caves, and are then wrapped by hand in organic Syrah grape leaves dipped in pear liqueur.

  a piece of cake that sits at the top of a table © Beryl Striewski

Brazilian judge Bruno Cabral called Rogue River Blue for "taste party" with "different sensations, balance, sweet and spicy notes," according to a statement from the Guild of Fine Food, which organizes the awards.

"I share this honor with my dedicated team at Rogue Creamery, our organic flock of brown Swiss and Holstein cows," said David Gremmels, owner of Rogue Creamery, also known as "Mr. Blue", in a statement.

"Rogue River Blue took the top prize this year in one style or another, rising to the top among a record number of entries from more countries than ever before," said John Farrand, CEO of the Guild of Fine Food. "Our first U.S. champion has certainly turned a few heads, but that's what the World Cheese Awards are all about – shining the spotlight on excellent cheese, wherever it happens."

"The idea that good cheese can only be made in France or Italy is simply not true, and we see more and more cheeses like Japan, South Africa and Russia hit high with our judges and deliver a real sense of terroir, "he said. [19659006] "Rogue River Blue has done just that, with everything about the cheese telling a story of Oregon's climate, the seasons and the people, from Syrah leaves and pear liqueur to the organic milk itself."

The list of 16 finalists included cheeses from Italy, Spain, France, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, Switzerland and Japan.

Taste Sensation

  a piece of cake sitting on top of a wooden table: This Oregon blue knocked out cheese from France, Italy and Spain. © Tim Johnston Photography
This Oregon blue knocked out cheese from France, Italy and Spain.

Rogue River Blue sells for $ 75 for a quarter wheel when purchased directly from Rogue Creamery, but it's also available in some Whole Foods stores and some cheese shops like Murray's Cheese in New York City and Tomales Bay Foods (the home of Cowgirl Creamery) in Petaluma, California.

This year's Rogue River Blue was a very good year, the company stated on its website. "The skins evolved beautifully, and the taste is exceptional, displaying the fruit, spice, blackberry, vanilla, hazelnut, chocolate and bacon flavors that this cheese is known for."

"The Craft Revolution in the United States has been accelerating for a few years now, and Rogue Creamery has been knocking on the door to greatness ever since their impressive debut at the 2003 awards ceremony," Farrand said.

"So it feels very fitting for David and his team to be the first to take the World Cup back to America."

Related video: This is what goes into organic Italian goat cheese

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