The cheese – the first ever winner from Norway – beat more than 3,000 other cheeses from around the world at the event, which was held from November 16-18, in collaboration with the inaugural International Cheese Festival.
The following day, all of the previous winners of the World Champion Cheese award went up against each other, and Kraftkar again came out on top to take the Champion of Champions award.
Spanish cheeses just behind
Judge Nick Tsioros, owner of Olympic Cheese in Toronto said that the 12-month aged blue cheese was wonderfully balanced, had a great crumbly texture, but was soft and smooth on the tongue.
The 29 winners of the World Champion Cheese award
2016 Kraftkar, Tingvollost, Norway
2015 Le Gruyère AOP Premier Cru, Cremo SA – von Mühlenen, Switzerland
2014 Bath Blue, Bath Soft Cheese, UK
2013 Montagnolo Affine, Kaserei Champignon, Germany
2012 Manchego DO Gran Reserva, Dehesa de los Llanos, Spain
2011 Ossau Iraty, Fromagerie Agour, France
2010 Cornish Blue, Cornish Blue Cheese Company, England
2009 Le Cendrillon, La Maison Alexis de Portneuf, Canada
2008 Queso Arico Curado Pimentón, Soc Canaria de Formento, Canary Islands
2007 Brie de Meaux, Rénard Gillard, France
2006 Ossau Iraty, Fromagerie Agour, France
2005 Le Gruyère Premier Cru, Von Mühlenen, Switzerland
2004 Camembert de Normandie AOC, Isigny Ste. Mère, France
2003 Chevre d’Or Camembert, Eurial-Poitouaine/Eurilait, France
2002 Reserve Gruyère, Von Mühlenen entered by H T Webb, Switzerland
2001 JOINT CHAMPION: Camembert Super Medaillon, Isigny Ste. Mère, France / Mature Cheddar, Carbery, Ireland
2000 Mature West Country Farmhouse Cheddar, Brue Valley Farms, England
1999 Kollumer 18 months (Old Dutch Master), Frico Cheese, Holland
1998 Mature Traditional Cheddar, Dairy Crest, Sturminster Newton, England
1997 Parmigiano Reggiano, Caseficio Vittori Quistello, Italy
1996 Lord of the Hundreds, Traditional Cheese Dairy, England
1995 Blue Shropshire, Cropwell Bishop Creamery, England
1994 Brie de Meaux AOC, Hennart Frères, France
1993 Double Gloucester, Dairy Crest, Longridge, England
1992 Le Gruyère Premier Cru, Von Mühlenen, Switzerland
1991 Fourme d’Ambert, Hennart Frères, France
1990 Mature Traditional Cheddar, Dairy Crest, Sturminster Newton, England
1989 Blue Stilton, Dairy Crest Foods, Hartington, England
1988 Blue Cheshire, Hutchinson-Smith & Son, England
“The mold has developed nicely and comes across really well in the overall flavor of the cheese,” Tsioros said.
Kraftkar was awarded 71 points out of 80 by the super jury of 16 judges, just ahead of a Spanish duo in joint second place with 67 points: Cala Blanc, from Lacto Industrial Menorquina, and Cremositos Del Zujar, made by Arteserena.
The judging for the top award took place in front of a trade and consumer audience, and was broadcast live on World Cheese TV. Many local and regional broadcasters from the region also covered the event.
Judges at the event – which included DairyReporter editor Jim Cornall – worked in teams of four, identifying any cheeses worthy of a bronze, silver, gold - or no award.
Factors considered included the rind and the body of the cheese, its color, texture, consistency and, above all, its taste.
After giving out gold, silver and bronze awards, each table then had to decide upon a ‘super gold’ from those cheeses that were given gold status – these were the cheeses that moved on to be judged by the super jury to crown the champion cheese.
Champion of Champions
At the follow-up event, which saw all previous 28 winning cheeses, and Kraftkar, compete against each other, the Norwegian cheese once again came out top.
Ossau Iraty, from Fromagerie Agour in France, which took top honors in 2011, came in second, with 2015 champion Le Gruyère AOP Premier Cru, from Cremo SA von Mühlenen, in Switzerland placing third.
Unfortunately, Gunnar Waagen, from Tingvollost, who had picked up the award a day earlier, had to return to Norway – to make more cheese. The award was presented on his behalf, to fellow Norwegian cheesemaker, Ingulf Galaaen, from Røros.
International Cheese Festival
The inaugural International Cheese Festival was an opportunity for local artisanal cheesemakers to showcase their products alongside other regional, national and international producers.
The entire lower floor of the Kursaal, on the San Sebastian waterfront, which hosted the event, was filled with cheesemakers, associated products, and other regional food producers. PDO cheeses, and companies from Ireland, Switzerland and France were among those attending the event.
The festival was well supported by local residents, with queues to enter the event at times throughout the three days.
The World Cheese Awards, which featured 3,021 cheeses from 31 countries, is organized by the Guild of Fine Food.