Two hundred twenty-three medals have been awarded to locally-made cheeses at this year's annual NZ Champions of Cheese Awards. While the bronze, silver and gold medal winners have been announced, the competition is not yet over with the gold medal winners vying for one of 26 cheese trophies, which will be announced in May.

The panel of judges awarded 97 gold medals, 99 silver medals and 27 bronze medals. While cheese across the board impressed, Master Judge Russell Smith made special note of the Fresh Italian Cheese category, which was introduced to judging for the first time this year. “What was wonderful to see was that while popular Italian favourites such as mozzarella, ricotta and mascarpone showed great cheesemaking technique so did other styles which are less familiar in New Zealand. Not only was there a huge increase in the number of Italian style cheese entered in the competition, importantly the quality was excellent too. The judges had a challenge picking the winners because the Italian cheeses were new, exciting and well-made.”

Twenty-one cheese experts assessed more than 280 entries to find New Zealand’s top cheese. The Awards also welcomed the return of butter and yoghurt for judging and ae well as 20 cheeses made by dedicated home cheesemakers.

Among the winners were; Barry’s Bay Cheese, Meyer Cheese, Kapiti, Over the Moon Dairy, Waimata Cheese Company, Clevedon Buffalo Co and the Drunken Nanny. Click here to view the full list of winners.