Cheese snobs who think American cheese is defined by Cheez Whiz will have been surprised by this year's World Cheese Awards. For the first time in the event's 32-year history, the winning cheese came from the US, Food & Wine reports. The honor went to the Rogue River Blue from Oregon's Rogue Creamery, which beat 3,803 other contenders from 42 countries. The Dairy Reporter describes the cheese as "cave-aged for 9 to 11 months and hand-wrapped in organic Syrah grape leaves that have been soaked in pear liqueur." France only had one cheese in the top 16, which one French newspaper called "sacrilege."
This year's awards, which were held in Italy for the first time, had a dramatic finish: After the Rogue River Blue and an Italian cheese, the Nazionale del Parmigiano Reggiano Latteria Sociale Santo Stefano, both scored 100 points, the chairman of judges cast a tie-breaking vote. "Rogue Creamery has been at the forefront of the US artisan cheese revolution for some years, so it seems very fitting for them to be the first American winners of our World Champion Cheese trophy," said John Farrand of the Guild of Fine Foods, which organized the cheese awards. Food & Wine notes that the cheese is easiest to find in southern Oregon, though it has been spotted in Whole Foods locations around the country and can also be ordered online. (Read more cheese stories.)