After squeezing, sniffing and tasting over 2,000 cheese, judges at the World Cheese Awards yesterday decided that the world's best cheese in 2011 was... drum roll... fanfare... an Ossau-Iraty from the French Basque region.
Made with unpasteurised ewes’ milk in the Pyrenees by farmhouse producer Fromagerie Agour, the semi-hard AOC cheese is aged for 10 months and has a sweet, nutty flavour and creamy texture. It’s the second time that Agour’s Ossau-Iraty has been named supreme champion, after winning the title at the 2006 World Cheese Awards.
Last year’s winner, Cornish Blue made by Philip Stansfield, nearly made it two years in a row, losing to Agour by the narrowest of margins, while third place went to a limited edition Cognac BellaVitano from Sartori Cheese in Wisconsin, USA. The semi-hard cheese is aged for a year then soaked in cognac for around a week.
The Agour creamery was founded in 1981 by Jean Etcheleku, who still runs it with his son Peio today. It is imported into the UK by QST/Cheese de France, whose director Frédéric Gayral (pictured above, centre) collected the award from BBC Radio 2’s Nigel Barden (left) and the Guild of Fine Food’s Bob Farrand (right).
For the rest of the results, please click here.