The winners of New Zealand’s 2023 cheese awards include some old favourites alongside emerging artisanal producers stepping into the hotly contested field for the first time.
Celebrating its 20th year, the NZ Champions of Cheese Awards bestowed medals on 162 cheeses, including 57 gold medals and 55 silver.
The coveted blue cheese award went to Fonterra for its perennial favourite Kahurangi Creamy Blue, the winner in four of the past six years, and the dairy giant also picked up a gold with its brine salt gouda and its Kāpiti Kānuka Havarti smoked export cheese.
Master judge Jason Tarrant said looking back over 20 years of the awards’ history, it was wonderful to see many of the same winners from the inaugural 2004 awards still being recognised.
The 2004 winners had included Puhoi, Whitestone Cheese, Fonterra brands Kāpiti, Mainland, and Zany Zeus.
Kāpiti took 28 medals this year. Whitestone claimed eight and Puhoi seven.
The new cheese category had particularly interested judges this year, with the award claimed by Craggy Range Sheep Dairy with a Clive Cumino-style cheese.
“It’s exciting for our industry to see so many new cheeses and it bodes well for the future that there is so much innovation and new product development,” Tarrant said.
“Fonterra Brands New Zealand, Kāpiti deserves a special shout for receiving four medals in this category – two gold medals, one silver and one bronze medal.”
The most contested category was again the Dutch-style cheese category, with 15 medals awarded.
Along with Fonterra’s salt gouda, other gold-medal recipients included the Waikato-based Meyer family, Karikaas Natural Dairy, and the long-standing Mahoe Cheese company.