Guess where the top three cheeses at the 19th Biennial U.S. Championship Cheese Contest were from?
If you guessed Wisconsin, Wisconsin and Wisconsin, you are correct. On Thursday night in Green Bay, a Sartori Reserve Black Pepper BellaVitano from Sartori Cheese was named “top cheese” in the “largest technical cheese, butter and yogurt competition” our country has to offer, according to the Wisconsin State Journal. Sartori Cheese hails from Antigo, WI. First and second runners up were a cheddar from Weyauwega, WI, and a Gouda from Thorp, WI.
The decision was reached by 50 judges from 18 states, if you fear that Wisconsin had an at-home advantage. Judges were tasked with evaluating “flavor, body and texture, salt, color, finish and packaging” which is a lot to keep in mind when you are consumed by cheese madness, as I am every time I enter a fromagerie.
The master cheesemaker responsible for the winning creamy splendor, Mike Matucheski, thanked the crowd, remembering to mention everyone who made his rinds semi-hard. “I have a lot of people to thank, starting with the farmers and the wonderful cows,” Matucheski said, “Nobody thought this could become what it did. The flavors were a challenge.”
Wisconsin is the top cheese-producing state in the country, and makers from the area have won Top Cheese at the U.S. Championship Cheese Contest 14 times in 19 competitions, since 1981. It can be nice when things live up to their expectations, and I think we all have a fondue feeling for Wisconsin cheese.