(CNN) – A tender goat cheese de España won first place at the World Cheese Awards on Wednesday, surpassing the field of 4,079 entries from more than 40 countries on five continents.
A British judge, Jason Hinds, told other judges on the panel just before voting that goat cheese had a “rich, seductive, creamy texture” and “a round, warm taste.”
“I just wanted to go to bed,” Hinds added, with a smile, at the ceremony broadcast live by organizers from the city of Oviedo, in northern Spain.
Silvia Peláez, owner of the winning cheese producer, said: “We are a humble little cheesemaker from Jaén,” a city in southern Spain best known for its olives, which are widely exported.
“Daily work pays off,” Peláez said, adding that the cheese factory, officially known as Lácteos Romero Peláez, has only six employees.
Their goat cheese has a noticeable black stripe down the middle, which was mentioned by the judges. Competition organizers said the cheese was “matured with penicillium candidum and olive ash.” Some comments indicated that the ash represented the black stripe.
The previous winner was an organic blue cheese, Rogue River Blue, the first American champion at these awards. That was in October 2019 in Bergamo, Italy. The annual cheese showdown did not take place last year due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
The latest winner, in 2019, was an Oregon blue cheese called Rogue River Blue.
Some 250 judges, including food scientists, cheese vendors, chefs and sommeliers, mix with the cheeses and each other during the competition. It began at 88 tables in a large conference room, each with three judges who tasted and scored about 45 cheeses distributed before them at each table.
They focused on “the look, touch, smell and flavor of each entree, scoring aspects such as the appearance of the crust and pasta, as well as the aroma, body and texture of the cheese, with the majority of points awarded for taste and sensation in mouth, “said the organization’s website.
That reduced the field to 88, or one “big cheese” per table. The 88 semi-finalists then gave way to just 16 finalists. Their fate was decided by a so-called “superjury” of 16 judges who have no commercial ties with the producers of these cheeses, the organization said.
In the final round of the evaluation, each of the 16 judges spoke about a cheese, praising its characteristics, and then the 16 judges tasted that same cheese and voted by raising cards with a number, on a scale of 1 to 10, assigning points . to that cheese, in full view of an auditorium audience. The same method was then used for the other 15 finalists.
The winning goat cheese was the last to be judged among the finalists, and it took the day.
But is he the best in the world right now?
Its title is “world champion cheese,” John Farrand, managing director of the UK-based Guild of Fine Food, which organizes the cheese awards, told CNN. “The judges consider it the best cheese in the world. It has the new crown.”
Top photo of the International Cheese Festival