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Best Cheeses 2018: Europe and Beyond!


Parmigiano Reggiano

This year, we’ve covered some of the best cheesemaking regions in the world. However, great cheeses can be found everywhere from Colorado to Croatia. Here are some more favorites.

United States

Cella
Mozzarella Company 
Dallas, Texas  

This fresh, spreadable cheese is aged for up to one month wrapped in lemongrass, imparting a slightly citrusy overtone. Cella starts out crumbly and herbal before aging into a smooth, creamy disk with notes of wildflowers, bitter pith, and smoke. 

Chèvre 
Pure Luck Farm & Dairy 
Dripping Springs, Texas 

If goat cheese and butter had a baby, it would probably resemble second-generation cheesemaker Amelia Sweethardt’s chèvre, which is sold in five-ounce disks. And yes, “buttery” best describes the flavor and texture; clean and milky on the palate, it leaves no trace of goaty aroma or aftertaste.

Clothbound Cheddar 
Face Rock Creamery 
Bandon, Ore. 

With a gorgeously flaky texture and a satisfying nutty, grassy, salty flavor, this cheese is hard to forget. Wheels are wrapped in cheesecloth, drenched in butter, and aged for a minimum of two years, which yields a texture similar to parmesan but allows the rounds to retain the snackability of cheddar. 

Cognac Fig Chèvre 
Mackenzie Creamery 
Hiram, Ohio 

This Ohio creamery makes several flavored chèvres, but Cognac Fig is its most popular, and it’s easy to see why. “The balance of acidity in the cheese and the sweetness of the Divina figs pairs perfectly, as do the textures—creamy chèvre with a slight crunchiness from the fig preserves and a mild kick from the Courvoisier Cognac,” says Rob DeMuch, president and cheesemaker at Mackenzie Creamery.  

Gold Hill  
Haystack Mountain Cheese  
Longmont, Colo.  

Named the Best American Cheese at the 2017 World Cheese Awards, Gold Hill boasts a firm, flaky texture and an earthy, sweet flavor with buttery caramel notes. Think: a cross between aged cheddar and parmesan, but with a goaty kick. 

Organic Whole Milk Ricotta 
Amaltheia Organic Dairy 
Belgrade, Mont. 

This is not your typical lasagna-stuffer. The Brown family has been perfecting their recipe for this 100 percent goat’s milk ricotta on their small farm in Montana for 18 years; the result is rich and creamy with a mellow finish. The Browns love to incorporate this one into sweet dishes, from cheesecakes to ricotta-and-honey-stuffed figs to brownies.   

Europe

Caprozzo al Prugnolo 
Romagna Terre 
Gambettola, Italy 

This unique goat’s milk cheese from Italy’s Emilia-Romagna region is aged 30 days, then covered with the powder of crushed blackthorn (sloe) flowers and matured for a minimum of five additional months. Its milky-white paste is elastic and compact, with small, irregular eyes and a strong, goaty flavor balanced by notes of toasted hazelnuts and a long, herbaceous finish.  

Esquirrou 
Fromagerie de Mauléon 
Mauléon-Licharre, France 

While it’s a mini version of Ossau Iraty PDO, there’s nothing minute about Esquirrou’s flavor—just ask the judges at the 2018 World Championship Cheese Contest, who named the wheel World Champion out of 3,402 entries from 26 countries. Aged at least six months, the firm, ivory paste boasts notes of roasted nuts and toasted wheat.  

Gotthelf Emmentaler AOP  
Käserei Hüpfenboden / Gourmino 
Emmental, Switzerland 

“It is a cheese for connoisseurs,” says master cheesemaker Bernhard Meier, of this Slow Food–recognized Emmentaler. In other words, it’s nothing like a grocery-store Swiss. “This is classic Emmentaler AOP that your grandparents would remember eating as a kid, before all the copies and knockoff Swiss cheeses flooded the market,” says Joe Salonia, USA sales manager at affineur Gourmino. Expect a firm yet fudge-like texture studded with crunchy tyrosine crystals and a round flavor with grassy, peppery notes.

Holland Master Geit PDO 
FrieslandCampina  
Wolvega, Netherlands 

From the goats that feast on the famous verdant pastures of the Netherlands—and some very talented cheesemakers—comes this award-winning goat’s milk gouda. A dense, semi-firm texture gives way to sweet yet tangy flavors. It’s the perfect wedge for those wary of goat’s milk cheese. 

Isigny Brie 
Isigny Sainte-Mère 
Isigny-sur-Mer, France 

Within the velvety rind of this popular import—which is made in rounds or squares and packed in traditional wooden boxes—lies a dense, slightly sticky, rich paste imbued with a pleasing level of saltiness and delectable hammy undertones. Think of this one as your picnic centerpiece—or a glammed-up grilled cheese go-to. 

La Retorta Mini 
Queseria Finca Pascualete 
Trujillo, Spain 

Made with raw sheep’s milk and thistle rennet, this small, spoonable round—named Best Spanish Cheese at the 2017 World Cheese Awards—carries aromas of its terroir: forests filled with oaks, rockrose, juniper, thyme, blackberry bush leaves, and rosemary.  

Lille Aske 
Bo Jensen Dairy 
Aurenes, Norway 

These adorable ash-coated cylinders are aged for three weeks in pastry-chef-turned-cheesemaker Bo Jensen’s inland dairy in southwest Norway. A dusty, wrinkled rind surrounds a clean, well-balanced, bone-white paste with a whiff of barnyard; the texture of the raw-milk round ranges from mousse-like to almost crumbly, with a melting quality on the palate.  

Lomo del Palo Oveja  
Quesos Bolaños  
Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, Spain 

Clover, wild lettuce, and arugula—this is the winter diet of the Quesos Bolaños sheep. In summer, the animals head up the mountains, looking for almond hulls, agave, and tagasaste (a member of the pea family indigenous to the volcanic slopes of the Canary Islands). Infused with this bouquet of wild flavors, the sheep’s milk is transformed into semi-soft Lomo del Palo Oveja. Aged for eight months in natural rock caves, smeared with extra-virgin olive oil, and flipped daily, the cheese has notes of spice and roasted nuts and a buttery, supple texture. 

Mont Vully Bio 
Fromagerie Schafer 
Cressier, Switzerland 

This semi-firm, raw-milk cheese is washed with organic wine from local vineyards. While it gives off a pungent smell, its complex taste will win you over—subtle hints of grass, nuts, and fruit all make an appearance. 

Organic Anevato PDO  
Kourellas S.A.  
Grevena, Greece 

Since 1960, the Kourellas family in Greece has been making traditional cheeses, achieving PDO status for its organic Anevato in 1996. A soft, creamy, mild cheese with a slightly gritty texture and subtle tang, it’s produced in small batches using milk from goats grazing at altitudes of approximately 2600 feet. In Greek, anevato means “risen,” and in this context it has a double meaning: curds “rising” from the whey after the addition of rennet, and shepherds returning to their mountain homes after selling cheese at the market.

Parmigiano Reggiano 
Latteria Sociale San Pietro 
Valestra, Italy 

Latteria San Pietro is situated in the mountains of Italy’s Reggio Emilia region, where the dairy cooperative sources milk from local farmers who practice traditional breeding methods and ensure the well being of the cows. This 37-month-old Parmigiano Reggiano has a deeply straw-colored paste with tyrosine crystals speckled throughout. The aroma is an elegant mix of mature fruits and nuts, while flavor is rich and decisive—but not bitter or spicy, despite its age. 

Queso Curado en Romero 
Agroalimentaria Valle de los Molinos S.L. Pago Valle de los Molinos 
Los Yébenes, Spain 

Only milk from a select herd of Lacaune sheep grazed on walnut prairies go into cheeses made by Spain’s Pago Valle de los Molinos. This distinctive, earthy wheel—whose name literally means “cheese cured in rosemary”—matures for six months, spending the final two wrapped in its namesake herb. 

S’Würzige Schaf 
Weizer Schafbauern eGen. M.b.H. 
Weiz, Austria 

This washed rind doesn’t pack too much of a punch; with just 10 to 14 days of aging, it’s ideal for stinky cheese newbies. Each rust-colored round is made with milk sourced from a sustainable Austrian sheep farmers’ cooperative. The animals feed on summer grass and herbs, which gives the rich ivory paste, marked by small eyes, a subtle piquancy.  

Žigljen Iz Vinskog Dropa  
Sirana Gligora 
Kolan, Croatia 

A hard, flaky cheese made with a blend of cow’s and sheep’s milks, Sirana Gligora’s Zigljen tastes of roasted, caramelized pecans. Made in Kolan, a village on the island of Pag, the cheese is aged for at least six months in grape pomace.  

Oceania 

Riverine Blue  
Berrys Creek Gourmet Cheese 
Fish Creek, Australia 

When Barry Charlton began Berrys Creek Gourmet Cheese in 2007, he’d been a cheesemaker for more than three decades—but he’d never made blue cheese. So it was a leap of faith to say the least when he launched an artisan cheese business making only blues. Luckily, the gamble paid off and Charlton’s wheels are now considered some of the best blues in Australia, especially award-winning Riverine Blue. Boasting a firm texture and subtly sweet flavor, the mild but complex cheese has a delicate floral finish.  

Sheep Milk Camembert  
Thorvald Cheese 
Upper Moutere, New Zealand 

There may be 30 times as many sheep than people in New Zealand, but most Kiwis think of them in terms of woolly sweaters or a Sunday roast rather than cheese. David Barrett, owner of Thorvald Cheese, is doing his part to change that with his farmstead sheep’s milk cheeses, including this camembert style. The soft bloomy rind ages from the outside in, developing complex mushroomy, truffle-like flavors.  

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