☰ menu   

The Best Cheeses of 2023


Featuring over 60 award-winners from across the globe.

We’re celebrating a decade of producing our Best Cheeses issue, highlighting makers from around the world and in your backyard. These winners have collected accolades from the 2023 American Cheese Society Judging and Competition (ACS), 2023 US Championship Cheese, World Championship Cheese Contest (WCCC), 2023 Good Food Awards (GFA), and the 2023 and 2022 World Cheese Awards (WCA). Happy reading!

Best Soft Cheeses

Best Semi-Soft Cheeses

Best Semi-Hard Cheeses

Best Hard Cheeses

Best Blue Cheeses

Best Soft Cheeses

Written by Alexandra Jones and Chala June

Cheese that is made in a relatively short time and has a soft, creamy, or runny texture

Prosecco-Washed Harbison

The Cellars at Jasper Hill Farm,
Greensboro Bend, Vermont
Jasper Hill’s beloved bark-wrapped round has been washed in beverages ranging from gin to whiskey to port wine. Winning First in its category at the 2023 ACS, this version is bathed in Prosecco DOC Brut, which softens the original’s woodsy, meaty flavors with a citrusy sweetness. Pair it with—what else—something bone-dry and bubbly such as Prosecco to complement the rich, gooey interior and bold flavors of this outstanding wheel. AJ

CamemBertha

Four Fat Fowl, Stephentown, New York
Bloomy-rind wheels are known for being mild and buttery, but a little extra time in the aging cave can yield flavors and aromas ranging from root cellar to brassica to barnyard. Aged twice as long as Four Fat Fowls’ flagship triple-cream St. Stephen, CamemBertha is allowed to develop bolder flavors while still retaining its welcoming, milky profile, which may have played a part in it winning First in its category at the 2023 ACS. Tasting notes include cooked vegetables and a pronounced pungency that pairs well with funky wines and farmhouse ales. AJ

Crescenza-Stracchino

BelGioioso Cheese, Green Bay, Wisconsin
This rindless Italian-style cheese, which took home First in its category at the 2023 ACS awards, is meant to be eaten young when its flavors are bright and milky, or aged for up to two weeks to develop a pleasant tang and softer texture. Cheeses at this stage are some of the most versatile: take it in a dessert direction by baking it into cheesecake or serving with fresh raspberries and wildflower honey, or go savory by melting it over a pizza or a burger. AJ

Adiron-Jack

Nettle Meadow Farm, Thurman, New York
Jersey cows are renowned for their high-butterfat milk. Nettle Meadow takes advantage of that richness to make one of their most luxurious bloomy-rind cheeses. Adiron-Jack, a triple-cream button made exclusively with Jersey milk, gets its name and its floral profile from an infusion of local applejack brandy—not on the rind, but in the vat, where the curds soak in flavorful liqueur between cutting and draining. The result is a particularly luscious cheese—and 2022 WCA Gold winner—that offers notes of fresh grass and fruity apple, with a lush texture and beautifully smooth cream line. AJ

Lil’ Moo with Garlic and Chive

Sweet Grass Dairy, Thomasville, Georgia
Think of Lil’ Moo, one of SweetGrass Dairy’s 2023 GFA-winning fresh cheeses, as grass-fed Boursin with Southern terroir. Made with golden milk from their mixed heritage breed cows, which graze on pasture year-round thanks to south Georgia’s favorable climate, Lil’ Moo is light and smooth with a grassy, tangy flavor. Savory, aromatic garlic and chives give this cream cheese–like spread an umami boost. AJ

Ricotta Di Bufala

Calabro Cheese, East Haven, Connecticut
Water buffalo milk’s renowned richness is due to its extra fat content—about 50 percent more than cow’s milk. Taking home First in its category at the 2023 ACS awards, this cloud like ricotta highlights buffalo milk’s lush texture and characteristic sweetness, backed by citrus and caramel notes. Made with a combination of whey from mozzarella di bufala production and buffalo milk, Ricotta Di Bufala is hand-ladled to preserve its delicate consistency. AJ

Petite Jalapeño Brie

Marin French Cheese Co.,
Petaluma, California
Cheese with a kick has grown far beyond your everyday pepper jack. This Bay Area institution has combined its signature French-inspired elegance with a distinctly Californian flavor profile. Shot through with bits of red and green jalapeño, this elegant triple-cream button balances the heat with mild, buttery flavors and pillowy texture. Reach for this winning wheel, which took First in its category at the 2023 ACS, instead of queso on your next game day cheese board. AJ

Basket-Molded Chèvre

Pure Luck Dairy, Dripping Springs, Texas
Pure Luck Farm and Dairy started out growing vegetables, but today, this certified organic farm outside Austin is best known for its award-winning cheeses. Their original basket-molded chèvre—produced by second-generation cheesemaker Amelia Sweethardt and 2023 ACS Third Best of Show winner—might be the quintessential expression of their Alpine and Nubian goat’s milk, with a clean, pleasantly tangy flavor and delicate, versatile texture. AJ

Sweet 16

Wegmans Food Markets / Vermont Creamery, Rochester, New York / Websterville, Vermont
Winning First in its category at the 2023 ACS, this cheese created by Wegmans and goat cheese icon Vermont Creamery, shows that collaboration breeds innovation. Using Wegmans’ 1916—an aged chèvre with a brainy Geotrichum rind—as the starting point, cheesemaker Adeline Druart partnered with Wegmans’ Cheese Cave affineur Mathieu Callol to add character in a new way. The delicate, fudgy center of each round is infused with the flavor of fresh oranges, creating a subtle sweetness and amplifying this cheese’s characteristic citrusy notes. AJ

L’Affiné au Chablis

Laiteries H. Triballat, Rians, France
Washed-rind cheeses are known for their assertive aromas, but some—such as 2022 WCA Super Gold winner L’Affiné au Chablis—announce themselves a little more softly. This brainy Burgundian round is washed in crisp, light-bodied Chablis produced in the same region. That treatment helps develop this cheese’s wrinkly, peach-hued rind, which hides a satiny gold paste beneath a plush cream line. Taste for hints of stone fruit and wildflowers. AJ

Purple Haze

Cypress Grove, Arcata, California
Much like the Jimi Hendrix song it’s named for, Cypress Grove’s Purple Haze will take your senses on a rollercoaster ride. In lieu of heady guitar riffs and a grooving bassline, Purple Haze (the cheese) uses fragrant lavender and hand-harvested fennel pollen to form a flavorful symphony with fresh Alpine goat’s milk; it topped the charts and won Best of Class in its category at the 2023 USCCC. Founded by self-proclaimed “serious hippie” Mary Keehn in 1983, Cypress Grove is one of the leading domestic goat cheese producers in the country. CJ

Sinodun Hill

Norton and Yarrow Cheese,
South Oxfordshire, England
Made by hand on the biodynamic Earth Trust Farm in South Oxfordshire, Sinodun Hill is a zippy aged goat’s milk cheese with a distinctive pyramid shape and wrinkly natural rind. Farmers Fraser Norton and Rachel Yarrow work with their own herd of Anglo-Nubian goats to produce the milk that lends Sinodun Hill its herbaceous yogurt-like flavor with light citrus and almond notes. Airy and mousse-like in texture, Sinodun Hill was awarded Super Gold at the 2022 and 2023 WCA. CJ

Queso Quesadilla

Hispanic Cheese Makers-Nuestro Queso, Kent, Illinois
Nuestro Queso’s Quesadilla cheese, First in its category at the 2023 ACS, is a Mexican-style wheel with a unique history. This style of pressed cheese, sometimes called Queso Chihuahua or Queso Menonita, originated from Mennonite communities that settled in Northern Mexico in the 1920s. Today, it’s beloved for its meltability. Mild and smooth, it’s ideal for dishes like enchiladas, queso fundido, and its namesake quesadillas. AJ

Shabby Shoe

Blakesville Creamery,
Port Washington, Wisconsin
Don’t let the name dissuade you—there’s nothing shabby about this delicate bloomy goat’s milk cheese from Blakesville Creamery. A playful nod to the French classic Chabichou du Poitou, Shabby Shoe is crafted in a similar traditional style as it’s namesake, with true attention to detail successfully mirroring the oozy cream line and light texture of the original. Winning First inits category at the 2023 ACS in its first year on the market, Shabby Shoe is sure to become a new American classic. CJ

Fig & Honey Goat Cheese

LaClare Creamery, Malone, Wisconsin
Dotted with figs and laced with golden honey, it only makes sense that this sweet and tangy goat cheese from LaClare Creamery won First in its category at the 2023 ACS. What began as Larry and Clara Hedrich’s hobby farm in the late 70s has grown into one of the only 100 percent domestically produced goat cheese brands in the country. Sourcing its milk exclusively from farms within 15 miles of the facility, LaClare Creamery is dedicated to producing best-in-class cheese that showcases the finest Wisconsin cheesemaking traditions. CJ

Original Fresh Goat Cheese

Laura Chenel, Sonoma, California
Sometimes, the classics just can’t be beat—and that’s the case with Laura Chenel’s Original Fresh Goat Cheese which took home Gold at the 2022 WCA. Laura Chenel can be credited with helping to spark the American artisan cheese movement in the 70s, and its flagship fresh cheese is still earning awards today. With a softer texture and higher moisture content than their goat cheese logs, Original Goat Cheese is ideal for spreading on bread or crackers, blending into dips and sauces, or melting into soups. AJ

Apricity

Alemar Cheese Company,
Minneapolis, Minnesota
Apricity is named for a seventeenth-century English word meaning “the warmth of the sun in winter.” With its wrinkly Geotrichum rind, this lactic-set, hand-formed sphere looks a bit like a snowball—but its flavor is rich and bright. As it ages, tangy, fruity, and yeasty flavors deepen, while its fudgy, dense interior relaxes into an oozy cream line. Placing First in its category at the 2023 ACS, this winner is a delightful starting point on any cheese board with juicy, acidic fruits, or paired with light, crisp beverages. AJ

Doeling

Boxcarr Handmade Cheese,
Cedar Grove, North Carolina
Owned by brother and sister duo Austin and Samantha Genke, Boxcarr Handmade Cheese is crafting nationally sought-after Italian-inspired cheeses from the heart of North Carolina. What started out as a small family farm in 2009 has grown into an expanding dairy and cheesemaking operation with nearly 120 milking does. Named for its herd, Boxcarr’s Doeling—a 2023 GFA winner—is a fragrant chive-studded bloomy goat cheese that wonderfully balances its herbal flavors with a deeply savory, nutty profile. CJ


Best Semi-Soft Cheeses

Written by Madison Trapkin

Cheese that is moderately soft and considered slightly firm, but easily cut, as well as a good melter.

Hudson Flower

Murray’s Cheese,
New York City, New York
This sheep’s milk cheese starts its journey in New York’s Hudson Valley at Old Chatham Creamery. Cheesemakers craft small, soft-ripened disks that are shipped off to Murray’s Cheese in New York City for affinage. There, the cheese is coated with a blend of rosemary, lemon thyme, chervil, and hop flowers—the very same herbs and flowers the sheep eat on the farm. Hudson Flower won Super Gold at the 2023 and 2022 WCA , Second in its category at the 2023 ACS, and Best of Class in its category at the 2022 WCCC for its rich, herbaceous taste and creamy texture. MT

Nosey Goat

Upper Canada Cheese Company,
Ontario, Canada
With a bouncy texture and subtle funky, grassy notes, this semi-soft goat’s milk cheese from Upper Canada Cheese Company is a great introduction to washed-rind cheeses—and won First in its category at the 2023 ACS. Each wheel is carefully crafted starting with fresh goat’s milk from Ontario that’s then aged in a cellar. There, the wheels are turned and washed with brine twice daily until they’ve reached the ripe age of 6 weeks old. MT

Grosse Tomme de Bufflonne Cave Jacobine

Prolactine France, Chambéry, France
Buttery texture is the name of the game when it comes to this award-winning buffalo’s milk cheese (it took Super Gold at the 2022 WCA). Produced by Prolactine France in the country’s Savoie region, this tomme is ultra-rich, a little sweet, a little nutty, and has major caramel undertones. It’s aged in a natural underground cave where, it’s brushed and turned regularly for a minimum of three months to ensure it develops an even rind. MT

Oaxaca con Chipotle

Don Froylan Creamery, Salem, Oregon
The Ochoa family has been making artisanal Mexican cheeses in Salem, Oregon, since the 90s when the company’s founders, Don Froylan and Zoila, moved there. A zesty riff on their classic Oaxaca cheese, Oaxaca con Chipotle is rubbed in a spicy chipotle powder, giving this squeaky, semi-soft cow’s milk cheese a little extra oomph. It won First in its category at the 2023 ACS Awards. MT

Sawtooth

Cascadia Creamery,
Trout Lake, Washington

Semi-soft cow’s milk stunner Sawtooth is all about terroir—namely that of Washington’s Cascade Range. Mineral-rich glacial waters flow from these mountains into streams where cows drink, while the area’s volcanic soil provides a perfect environment for green grazing pastures.This 2023 GFA winner is a washed-rind cheese, which adds a layer of fruity funk to an otherwise smooth, savory wheel that’s aged for 60 days. MT

Block Feta

Maplebrook Farm,
North Bennington, Vermont
Milk from Vermont-raised cows serves as the sweet and tangy base of this small-batch feta from Maplebrook Farm. Like burrata packaging, these smooth, creamy blocks hang out in salty brine until ready to enjoy. Serve up this winner (First in its category at the 2023 ACS, to be exact) on top of salads, sprinkled over shakshuka, or even in a feta brine martini (don’t knock it ‘til you try it!). MT


Best Semi-Hard Cheeses

Written by Austin Banach and Lilith Spencer

Cheese that is moderately hard but slightly soft due to higher moisture content than hard cheeses.

Pleasant Ridge Reserve

Uplands Cheese Company,
Dodgeville, Wisconsin
It’s no surprise given this creamery’s history
of awards that Uplands Cheese took Third
Best of Show at the 2023 ACS with their
iconic Alpine-style, washed-rind Pleasant
Ridge Reserve. This sweet and savory
stunner is only made during summer
months when cows graze on fresh pastures
and is typically aged between nine and 14
months. It’s firm, with a striking beeswax-
yellow paste, and tastes like sweet grass and hazelnuts with a slightly smoky finish. AB

Keystone

River Whey Creamery, Schertz, Texas
Keystone snagged First in its category at the 2023 ACS. This raw cow’s milk cheese is made in the classic style of Northern Italian tommes and is aged for four months. It’s rich and fudgy with a bright piquant flavor and lingering finish. Keystone is versatile both on cheeseboards and in cooking applications such as salads, pastas, vegetables, and more. It’s also great for melting on classic paninis or flatbreads. AB

Emmentaler AOP 18 Month Cave D’or

Mifroma, Gruyères, Switzerland
Emmentaler AOP 18-month Cave D’or, selected and matured by Mifroma of Switzerland, won Gold at the 2022 WCA. This natural-rind cheese has a light-yellow paste with large, cherry-sized holes—Emmantaler’s signature trait. It’s aged in an underground cave—the perfect environment for cheese maturation thanks to the sandstone cave wall’s sponge-like texture which maintains constant temperature and humidity. The cheese’s sweetness lingers and finishes with notes of fresh milk and hazelnuts. AB

The Stag

Deer Creek Cheese,
Sheboygan, Wisconsin
For the fifth time, The Stag took home Best of Class in its category at the 2023 USCCC. This smooth, mature cheddar is ultra-nutty, with toffee-like toasted sweetness. Firm yet creamy, The Stag is studded with fine crystals, creating a satisfying texture that you can really sink your teeth into. You’ll be hard-pressed to find a pairing that doesn’t work with this supremely snackable and versatile cheese. LS

Griene Tsiis

Working Cows Dairy, Slocomb, Alabama
From Working Cows Dairy in Alabama, 2023 GFA winner Griene Tsiis is a flavored, organic farmstead cheese full of zip and zest. Its buttery-smooth, semi-firm paste makes a perfect base for the peppery herbs and aromatics marbled throughout, including celery, celery leaf, chive, garlic, and onion—a traditional Dutch blend. What distinguishes this cheese is the quality of milk from Working Cows’ grass-fed herd which shines through despite these assertive flavors. Its creamy character balances the equation (and makes it incredibly hard to stop snacking on). LS

Cumberland

Sequatchie Cove Creamery,
Sequatchie, Tennessee
The 2023 ACS Second Best of Show went to Cumberland, a cheese inspired by Tommede Savoie—a cow’s milk icon from Savoie in the French Alps. Cumberland is aged 75 to 90 days without being washed and is flipped occasionally to allow an array of seasonal mold growth. Cumberland has aromas and tastes of mushrooms, starchy and buttery potatoes, and even fresh corn. AB

Capra Tonka & Vermouth

Latteria Perenzin, Veneto, Italy
A true original, this gorgeous goat cheese scored a Super Gold at the 2022 WCA. Its speckled, honey-hued rind is treated with Tonka bean and Vermouth, an unexpected, incredibly successful flavor combination. Careful aging develops a dense, alabaster paste enveloped in a perfume of vanilla, anise, brown sugar, and earthy herbs. Notes of white pepper and almond mingle with these heady aromas for a robust and layered flavor profile. LS

Ziller

Guggisberg Cheese, Millersburg, Ohio
Ziller’s accolades are growing to include First in its category at the 2023 ACS category, Second Best of Class in its category at the 2023 USCCC, and Silver at the 2022 WCCC. Ziller’s profile lies between a pronounced and bold traditional Emmentaler and a sweet and creamy Baby Swiss. AB

Riserva del Fondatore Special Edition

Caseficio il Fiorino, Tuscany, Italy
A 2022 WCA Super Gold and 2023 Silver WCA winner, this traditionally-made pecorino from Caseficio il Fiorino will take your tastebuds on a real trip. Nutty, grassy, fruity, vegetal, and piquant, Riserva del Fondatore Special Edition certainly commands your attention. Its tawny, basketweave-imprinted rind makes it especially visually captivating, lending its sturdy form a rugged elegance. Despite its durable texture, this playful pecorino—which is aged a minimum of 20 months—offers an unexpectedly creamy mouthfeel that carries these varied and vivacious flavors. LS

5Q’s

Alimentias, Manzanares, Spain
This beauty was a hit at the WCA, earning a coveted Super Gold in 2022 and Gold in 2023. In a unique treatment that sets it apart from other aged sheep’s milk cheeses from Spain, 5Q’s is ripened for eight months in Oloroso sherry casks. Mature and muscular in texture, this is a full-bodied cheese with an intoxicating woodsy aroma and an intensely fruity profile. The flavors of the raw milk used to make this cheese concentrate with age, resulting in mellow barnyard undertones and surprisingly delicate floral and herbaceous notes. LS

Prairie Tomme

Green Dirt Farm, Weston, Missouri
Green Dirt Farm’s Prairie Tomme earned Third Best of Show at the 2023 ACS and Best of Class in its category at the 2023 USCCC, confirming its bonafide crowd-pleaser status. Resembling Pyrenees-style sheep’s milk cheeses, Prairie Tomme’s smooth, compact paste is rich on the palate. The mottled, muted peach rind with its signature sheep stamp smells of petrichor and grass: minerally and sweet. These earthy, vegetal aromas highlight herbaceous, pastoral flavors and add dimension to Prairie Tomme’s signature nutty notes of brown butter and caramel. LS

St. Malachi

The Farm at Doe Run,
Unionville, Pennsylvania
The cheese that took the crème de la crème 2023 ACS Best of Show was St. Malachi, which also won Best of Class in its category at the 2023 USCCC, and Super Gold at the 2022 WCA. Described as Alpine-style meets gouda, this raw cow’s milk cheese is aged around three months and features a firm texture with a deep, golden-yellow paste dotted with tyrosine crystals. It’s flavor profile is grassy, fruity, and buttery with a touch of caramel richness. AB

Traditional Aged Brick

Widmer’s Cheese Cellars,
Teresa, Wisconsin
The judging category “American Originals” is defined by the ACS as cheeses that are “uniquely American in their original forms: brick cheese, brick muenster, Colby, dry jack, Monterey Jack, and teleme.” Traditional Aged Brick from Widmer’s Cheese Cellars took home First Place in this category in 2023. Literally in the shape of a brick, this washed-rind cheese dates back to 1877, and Master Cheesemaker Joe Widmer still uses the same bricks his grandfather used to press each block of cheese into its namesake shape. Aged Brick is matured three to five months and has nutty, tangy, savory, and pungent flavors. AB

Sachi

Shiawase Cheese, Ashoro, Japan
Shiawase Cheese’s cheesemaker Sachio Honma creates a variety of raw-milk cheeses using traditional, conscious methods. One of those cheeses is Sachi, a raw, grass-fed cow’s milk cheese inspired by European Alpine greats with flavors of toasted nuts and an underlying caramel-like sweetness, which won Super Gold at the 2022 WCA. AB

Chipotle Cheddar

Henning’s Cheese, Kiel, Wisconsin
Multi-award-winning Master Cheesemaker Kerry Henning’s Chipotle Cheddar won First at the 2023 ACS in its category. This cheese is crafted with rich and smoky chipotle peppers that are carefully blended into white cheddar, compliment sits creamy texture. It’s as well suited for snacking as it is incorporated into recipes for a zingy kick. AB

Wischago

Hidden Springs Creamery,
Westby, Wisconsin
Hidden Spring Creamery’s Wischago, modeled after Manchego, earned First in its category at the 2023 ACS. Aged for six to seven months, Wischago is dense in texture and bold in character, with a warm, meaty backbone. It tastes like ripe and juicy fruit with notes of honey that lighten the cheese’s deeply savory profile, striking a perfect sweet-salty balance that keeps you coming back for another bite. LS

Anabasque

Landmark Creamery, Paoli, Wisconsin
This winner from Landmark Creamery—which scored First in its category at the 2023 ACS, a 2023 GFA, Bronze at 2023 WCA, and Second in its category at the 2022 WCCC—is inspired by the Basque-style sheep’s milk cheeses of Spain. Its terracotta-hued rind is frosted with white bloom and washed with brine through out its maturation to coax out savory flavors. Anabasque has a warm, milky quality that’s gently sweet from start to finish. Aromas of fresh dough and lanolin play beautifully with subtle notes of stone fruit, making this a delightfully bright and well-balanced cheese. LS

Cornerstone

Parish Hill Creamery,
Westminster West, Vermont
Cornerstone is a true innovation, and its 2022 WCA Gold win is a testament to Parish Hill’s unmistakable ability to capture and project terroir through their craft. Reminiscent of well-worn pavestone, this uniquely-shaped cheese is squat and square, with rounded edges and a dappled grey rind. Beneath Cornerstone’s rustic patina lies a firm-yet-yielding paste with a complex range of tasting notes including citrus, earthy greens, toasted nuts, and cultured butter, all culminating in a cool, gently lactic finish. LS

Le Gruyère AOP Surchoix

Gourmino AG, Emmental, Switzerland
Considered one of the most recognized and popular cheeses in the world, Le Gruyère AOP Surchoix won Gold at the 2023 WCA and Super Gold at the 2022 WCA. This particular 12-month Gruyère is named Surchoix to signify its superior quality. It’s made by Master Cheesemaker Urs Leuenberger and selected and ripened by Gourmino. In another impressive win for Gourmino Le Gruyère AOP, made by cheesemaker Michael Spycher, it was crowned World Champion at the 2022 WCCC, marking the third time the maker’s earned the first place slot (It was previously crowned in 2008, 2020, 2022). AB


Best Hard Cheeses

Written by Madison Trapkin

A firm, sometimes crumbly cheese, usually longer-aged and more intense in flavor.

Clothbound Cheddar

Face Rock Creamery, Bandon, Oregon
Hailing from Bandon, a city on the southern coast of Oregon, this hard cow’s milk cheddar won First in its category at the 2023 ACS. After fresh curds are molded, they’re wrapped in cloth bandages and coated in sweet butter, then left to age in Face Rock Creamery’s cheese caves for at least 13 months. The resulting texture is flaky, while the paste is complex and reminiscent of a traditional extra-aged cheddar. MT

Sharpsburg Cheddar

Pennland Pure, Hancock, Maryland
Situated in the Susquehanna Valley, you’ll find the farmer-owned collaborative known as Pennland Pure. Their Sharpsburg Cheddar, named for the historic town of Sharpsburg, Maryland, won First in its category at the 2023 ACS, which includes cheddars aged from 13 to 23 months. As far as aged cheddars go, this one is well-balanced with a fruity finish. MT

Black Truffle Vintage Organic Cheddar

Godminster, Somerset, England
The good folks at Godminster in Somerset, England took home Super Gold at the 2022 WCA for this wheel, and it’s no wonder why. Clad in an alluring layer of black wax, this hard cheddar is crafted using pasteurized cow’s milk and European black truffles procured the old-fashioned way—that is, with a truffle hunter and hound. The resulting cheese is rich, earthy, creamy in texture, and decidedly luxurious because, truffles. MT

Momiji

Niseko Cheese Factory, Hokkaido, Japan
Niseko Cheese Factory won Gold at the 2022 WCA for Momiji, an orange-hued mimolette-style cheese made with cow’s milk. Aged for at least 12 months, this cheese is nutty, mild, and pairs well with all manner of beverages (especially sake). The name “momiji” comes from the Japanese word for the reddish-orange color of fall leaves—fitting for this pumpkin-like wheel. MT

Spenwood

Village Maid Cheese, Reading, England
British cheesemaker Village Maid Cheese took home a Super Gold at the 2022 WCA and Silver at the 2023 WCA for this hard sheep’s milk cheese. Inspired by Sardinian classics like Pecorino Sardo, Spenwood is made with vegetarian rennet and aged for nine months, developing a thin natural rind in the process. This cheese achieves a similar piquant flavor to the Italian original with a sweet, milky finish and supple texture. MT

Âlde Fryske

De Fryske, Lemmer, Netherlands
Dutch cheesemaker De Fryske was among the Super Gold winner sat the 2022 WCA, taking Third in the top 16 cheeses for their rich and nutty Âlde Fryske. (It also took home Bronze at the 2023 WCA.) This impressive wheel is a hard cow’s milk cheese, aged at least three months, giving it a firm, crumbly texture with warming notes of toffee and caramel. It’s ideal for adding to cheese boards or using in your favorite cheesy dishes, from burgers to pasta bakes. MT

Reserve Boont Corners

Pennyroyal Farm, Booneville, California
This 2023 GFA winner from Pennyroyal Farm starts with fresh, raw goat’s milk collected in the summer time when goats graze on an abundance of grasses. Reserve Boont Corners is aged for eight to 12 months on planks of pine that help draw out moisture as it matures. The resulting aged tommes are slightly sweet, abundantly nutty, and have a hard, crumbly texture that’s ideal for grating. MT

Marieke Gouda Aged

Marieke Gouda, Thorpe, Wisconsin
Marieke Gouda is all about bringing a taste of the Netherlands to the US, and this award-winning aged gouda—with its nutty, caramel notes and slightly crystalized texture—is no exception. It starts with cow’s milk from the Marieke farm in Thorpe, Wisconsin, that’s aged between nine and 12 months on authentic Dutch pine planks. It took First Place in its category at the 2023 ACS. MT

Organic Copper Kettle Parmesan

Cello / Lake Country Dairy, Turtle Lake, Wisconsin
The magic of this parmesan from Cello, made at Lake Country Dairy, comes from the namesake copper vats it’s cooked in and the length of time it’s aged—a cool 16 months. These factors transform this hard cow’s milk cheese into a flavor powerhouse with robust, caramel-forward notes that can stand up to any pairing you throw at it (dark chocolate, saucy pasta, you name it). Organic Copper Kettle Parmesan earned Best of Class at the 2023 USCCC, and Second in its class at the 2022 WCCC. MT

Parmigiano Reggiano 30-39 Mesi

Nazionale Parmigiano Reggiano Latteria Centro Rubbianino, Reggio Emilia, Italy
When it comes to Parmigiano Reggiano, the Nazionale Parmigiano Reggiano Latteria Centro Rubbianino takes matters very seriously. They employ methods used for at least eight centuries—and it all starts with high-quality cow’s milk. Once the cheese is formed, a very slow maturation (read: 30 to 39 months) is key to developing its crumbly texture, melted butter taste, and straw-like color. This wheel won Super Gold at the 2022 WCA. MT


Best Blue Cheeses

Written by Chala June

Cheese containing veins of blue mold.

Mad River Blue

von Trapp Farmstead, Waitsfield, Vermont
The Sound of Music may have made the von Trapp name legendary, but the high-quality organic dairy and cheeses that the family has been producing at their Waitsfield farm since 1959 have kept the legacy alive for generations to come. Named for the valley where von Trapp Farmstead sits, Mad River is an organic natural rind blue that carries notes of anise, cocoa, and dried fruits with a mild bite and light mineral finish. Mad River Blue won Gold at the 2022 WCA, and Bronze at the 2023 WCA. CJ

Cashel Blue Organic

J&L Grubb, Tipperary, Ireland
Known as Ireland’s first artisanal blue, the original recipe for Cashel Blue was written by Louis and Jane Grubb in 1984 to showcase the outstanding quality of grass-fed cow’s milk from Tipperary. Recently, under the direction of a new Grubb generation, the creamery began producing an unhomogenized organic version of the much-celebrated cheese that was awarded a Super Gold at the 2022 WCA. Made with milk from a single herd of Montbéliarde, Friesian, and Norwegian Red cows, Cashel Blue Organic is beautifully creamy with a full-rounded profile and the perfect amount of tang. CJ

Blue Yonder

Lively Run Dairy, Interlaken, New York
Crafting exceptional cheeses inspired by New York’s Finger Lakes region, Lively Run Dairy has been family-owned and-operated since 1982. One of the longest operating goat dairies in the country, the Interlaken farm now produces several cow’s milk cheeses, including Blue Yonder, which placed First in its category at 2023 ACS. Made with raw milk from Holstein cows, this complex, semi-soft, natural rind cheese boasts a rich and delicate aroma that makes it approachable for cheese enthusiasts new to blue. CJ

Gorgonzola Dolce DOP

De’ Magi, Arezzo, Italy
Andrea Magi is an absolute perfectionist when it comes to crafting quality cheeses, and that pursuit of perfection is evident in De’ Magi’s Gorgonzola Dolce DOP, a 2022 WCA Super Gold winner. On the palate, this low-acidity blue boasts an even distribution of mold veins that lend a gentle piquancy to its sweet, buttery paste. Boasting a blue-speckled ivory paste and a texture variance that goes from silky to gooey, this gorgonzola is as delightful to look at as it is to eat. CJ

Original Blue

Point Reyes Farmstead Cheese Co.,
Point Reyes Station, California
The Giacomini family has been raising dairy cattle on Tomales Bay since 1959, but it wasn’t until 2000 that they decided to produce cheese in house. Using raw, hormone-free milk from their own herd, they began making Original Blue with a recipe inherited by Point Reyes Farmstead’s head cheesemaker Kuba Hemmerling. Ultra-creamy and soft, this California classic, which won Second inits category at 2023 ACS, carries notes of sweet milk with a well-developed blue flavor and lingering notes of bright pepper. CJ

Bluehorn Blue

Rogue Creamery, Central Point, Oregon
Founded in 1933 as a co-op for dairy farmers struggling at the height of the Great Depression, Rogue Creamery has been setting a high standard for Oregon cheesemaking for over 90 years. Their 2022 WCA Super Gold–winning Bluehorn Blue, which is soaked in biodynamic red wine produced at Troon Vineyard in Southern Oregon, still speaks to that spirit of collaboration that has set Rogue Creamery apart for decades. Taking on deep plum and berry notes from the organic Syrah grapes, Bluehorn is a decadent cave-aged blue with herbaceous undertones and a long, smooth finish. CJ

YBleu

Quesería Artesanal Los Payuelos,
León, Spain
Even though they nearly lost their business during the pandemic, Francisco and Teresita Vázquez, the sibling duo behind Quesería Artesanal Los Payuelos, refused to accept defeat. Their resilience paid off when they were the only Spanish producer awarded two Super Golds at the 2022 WCA. One of those awards went to their French-style YBleu, a fragrant cave-aged sheep’s blue that boasts a smooth, melty texture and almond-forward flavor profile. CJ

Riverine Blue

Berry’s Creek Gourmet Cheese,
Fish Creek, Victoria, Australia
Known as Australia’s “Master of Blue,” Barry Charlton showcases four decades of cheesemaking expertise in each award-winning variety produced at Berry’s Creek Gourmet Cheese. Their signature Riverine Blue, awarded WCA Super Gold in 2022, is a lightly sweet and fruit-forward offering named in honor of the water buffalo breed that graze nearby. This buttery buffalo milk cheese is aged for 12 weeks to develop a light green-blue veining, leaving a balanced, gently spiced flavor on the palate. CJ

Great Hill Blue

Great Hill Dairy, Marion, Massachusetts
Located 60 miles south of Boston, Great Hill Dairy produces one thing, and one thing only: salty, crumbly, tangy Great Hill Blue. Handcrafted near the shores of Buzzards Bay, Great Hill Blue is made using traditional techniques with raw milk from local Guernsey cows. After aging for three months, the fresh non-homogenized milk yields a complex and creamy profile with a pleasantly acidic bite. Great Hill Blue earned First in its category at the 2023 ACS. CJ

Whole Blue Stilton

Cropwell Bishop Creamery, Nottingham, England
Cropwell Bishop Creamery produces a robust Stilton that is literally inimitable—in fact, they’re one of only six dairies in the world allowed to produce this beloved style of English blue. Behind Cropwell Bishop is the Skailes family, who have been handcrafting cheese in the Vale of Belvoir for three generations. Their winning Stilton, which nabbed Super Gold at the 2022 WCA and Gold at the 2023 WCA, is still made using techniques dating back to the seventeenth century, producing a velvet-smooth and tangy cheese that melts in your mouth. CJ

Related:

Alexandra Jones

Alexandra Jones is a writer and recovering cheesemonger based in Philadelphia. Her work on food, agriculture, social justice, and sustainability has appeared in outlets like USA Today, Food & Wine, Atlas Obscura, Civil Eats, The Counter, Audubon, the Philadelphia Inquirer, and Modern Farmer. She’s the author of Stuff Every Cheese Lover Should Know, a pocket guide to cheese from Quirk Books.

Chala June

Chala June is a Brooklyn-based writer, food enthusiast, and former cheesemonger.

Lilith Spencer

Lilith Spencer is the lifestyle editor at Jasper Hill Farm. Before moving up to Vermont, they served as a cheesemonger in western Massachusetts, New York City, and Santa Fe for nearly a decade, and won the San Francisco Cheesemonger Invitational in 2016. In their spare time, Lilith enjoys writing cheese parodies à la Weird Al. They have a miniature black-and-white dachshund named Greta who looks like a tiny Holstein and loves Willoughby.

Madison Trapkin

Madison Trapkin is an Atlanta-bred, Boston-based writer. She graduated from Boston University’s Gastronomy master’s Program in December 2018 and is currently an associate editor for culture. She is passionate about The Feminist Agenda, pizza, and regularly watering her houseplants.

Leave a Reply

4