New king cheese crowned world champion in Wisconsin

Judges Lars Johannes Nielsen and Kerry Kaylegian inspect a cheddar, aged one to two years, during the World Championship Cheese Contest, Tuesday, March 6, 2018, in Madison, Wis. The biennial event started Tuesday and runs through Thursday night. Organizers say this year there are a record of more than 3,402 entries, with participation up 15 percent from 2016. (AP Photo/Carrie Antlfinger)
Sylvain Diedrichs, a representative of Savencia Cheese USA of New Holland, Penn., holds the Best in Show winner during the finals of the World Championship Cheese Contest at Monona Terrace in Madison, Wis., Thursday, March 8, 2018. The hard sheep's milk variety called Esquirrou bested 19 other finalists on the final day of the three day event. The contest, hosted by the Wisconsin Cheese Makers Association, is the largest technical cheese contest in the world and this year drew a record 3,402 entries to 121 categories. (John Hart/Wisconsin State Journal via AP)

MADISON, Wis. — A new king cheese has been crowned in Wisconsin.

The winner of the 2018 World Championship Cheese Contest is a hard sheep's milk cheese called Esquirrou. The announcement was made Thursday night in Madison.

Esquirrou is made in France at Mauleon Fromagerie by Michel Touyarou and imported by Savencia Cheese USA of New Holland, Pennsylvania.

Twenty cheeses out of a record 3,402 entries were finalists for the top prize. The Wisconsin Cheese Makers Association, which hosts the contest , said five of those cheeses were from Wisconsin.

The contest began Tuesday. Judges had to sniff, taste and inspect 121 classes of dairy products, with entries from 26 nations.

Two years ago a smear-ripened hard cheese called Grand Cru Surchoix made by Fitchburg, Wisconsin-based Emmi Roth USA won the biennial contest. The cheese is made in Monroe, Wisconsin. The company is a subsidiary of Switzerland-based Emmi Group.

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