In a competition featuring the best of the cheese world, Norwegian blue cheese Nidelven Blå, produced by Gangstad Gårdsysteri, has been crowned the best cheese in the world in 2023 at the 35th World Cheese Awards, held at the Trondheim Spektrum indoor arena in Norway.
Dethroning four-time champion Gruyère, Nidelven Blå, a semi-solid, blue mold cheese, made of pasteurized cow’s milk, impressed the judges with its exceptional texture and flavor. “What I loved most about this cheese was the interplay between the milk and the blue flavours, so it’s not getting barreled over by the penicillin”, said Super Jury Judge Finbar Deery, who described it as having “a short creaminess and a real dense fudginess”. The cheese was also praised for its “fruity overtones, maybe some wine-like characteristics that really speak”.
The 11-month aged cheese is produced by Gangstad Gårdsysteri, a small dairy farm located just two hours away from Trondheim. In 2019 it won Best Norwegian cheese at the World Cheese Awards and Super Gold in 2020, which, to Maren Gangstad, the general manager of Gangstad Gårdsysteri, reflects “the work that’s gone into mainting the quality and consistency” of their product.
This happening on our home turf means a lot, and having all of the crew from the dairy here just adds an extra spark to it.Maren Gangstad, Gangstad Gårdsysteri General Manager
Organized by the Guild of Fine Food, this year’s event saw a record-breaking number of participants, with 4,502 cheeses from 43 countries vying for the top spot. Norway alone presented 293 cheeses at this year’s edition.
“We’ve got some really interesting cheeses this year from India and Japan that have only very recently been allowed, in the last two or three years, into the awards”, John Farrand, managing director of the World Cheese Awards, told CNN Travel. “But equally our judges like to find old favorites.”
The panel, composed of 264 cheese experts, from chefs, critics and recipe creators to buyers and retailers, came together from around the world to decide which cheese exceeds all others in terms of taste, aroma, flavor and texture. According to Farrand, the judging process “quite simply, is to assess the visual aspects of the cheese and then the aroma of the cheese. And then there’s a sort of heavier weighting in the scoring for the taste and mouthfeel of the cheese. So they’re looking at all aspects of it and how that sort of marries together.”
The jury selected the Bronze, Silver, Gold and Super Gold Awards. The latter was attributed to 100 cheeses, 16 of which were presented to an International Super Jury of 16 cheese experts to compete for the ultimate coveted prize of World Champion Cheese. For the final test, the competition was held in front of a live audience and broadcasted online.
The 16 best cheeses in the world
- Nidelven Blå, from Gangstad Gårdsysteri, Norway
- Baliehof Houtlandse Asche Kaas, from Baliehof Kaas En Zuivelboerderij Jabbeke, Belgium
- Eberle Würzig Seit 5 Generationen, from Dorfkäserei Muolen, Switzerland
- Eleftheria Brunost, from Vivanda Gourmet, India
- Müller-Thurgau Rezent, from Käserei Müller-Thurgau, Switzerland
- Kärntnermilch Mölltaler Almkäse Selektion 50% FiT, from Kärnternmilch, Austria
- Michel, from Rohmilchkäserei Backensholz, Germany
- Holland Delta, 1 Year Old, from Van der Heiden Kaas, Netherlands
- Old Amsterdam Goat, from Westland Kaasexport, Netherlands
- Parmigiano Reggiano 30-39 Months, from Nazionale Parmigiano Reggiano Rastelli Fratelli, Italy
- Deichkäse Gold, from Rohmilchkäserei Backensholz, Germany
- Sinodun Hill, from Norton and Yarrow Cheese, United Kingdom
- Goustal La Bergere, from Société des Caves, France
- Pirano, from La Bufalara, Italy
- Lamucca Di Castagno, from Romagna Terre, Italy
- Wigmore, from Village Maid Cheese, United Kingdom