NZ Champions of Cheese Crowned for 2022

July 22, 2022
Little River Mt Richmond cheese

The NZ Champions of Cheese Awards Trophy-winners were announced last month, with a long list of specialty cheeses likely to be making an appearance on Kiwi charcuterie boards this year. 

Last month the NZ Specialist Cheesemakers Association (NZSCA) celebrated the NZ Champions of Cheese Awards by awarding 29 trophies at a Gala Awards Dinner at the Atrium in Hamilton. Master Judge Jason Tarrant led a panel of 36 judges to assess the cheeses, handing out four Supreme Awards, seven Special Awards and 18 Category Trophies including styles ranging from blue cheese to goat cheese and everything in between.   

Among the Supreme Champions was Little River Estate’s Little River Mt Richmond which scooped up the New World Champion of Cheese Award – Mid-sized. Little River Estate cheese is made in a dedicated factory on Neudorf Rd, Upper Moutere using Oaklands whole A2 milk. Little River does not use preservatives, fillers, thickeners, stabilizers, sweeteners or other unnecessary additives in any of their products. All products are hand-made using traditional methods with no compromise. Master Judge Jason Tarrant noted Little River Estate, Little River Mt Richmond; is “A very near perfect cheese scoring a consistent 99/100 across the judging panel. Superb.” Last year when Little River Estate, Little River Mt Richmond was called Little River Estate Aged Swiss it was also a Trophy winner, when it was named NZSCA Champion European Style Cheese Award 2021. 

Little River Mount Richmond cheese

For the first time The NZ Champions of Cheese Awards included the Countdown Sustainability Trophy, for the cheese company showing an outstanding commitment to all elements of sustainability. The inaugural Countdown Sustainability Trophy was awarded to Hōhepa Hawkes Bay.The Hōhepa Homes Trust was founded 65 years ago to provide intellectually disabled people with opportunities and now employs 180 people. Presenting the sustainability award the judges noted that not only did Hōhepa Hawke’s Bay have a positive impact on the environment by reducing emissions by downsizing its petrol and diesel fleet and moving to an electric quad bike they are having a positive impact on people through work with the disability community and support providing training, education and livelihood. Hōhepa Hawkes Bay won six medals in this year’s NZ Champions of Cheese Awards.

Hohepa cheese factory 

The Rutherford & Meyer Chef’s Choice was also awarded for the third consecutive year. Chefs Mat Mclean of Palate Restaurant and Andrew Clarke, Chef du Cuisine at Hamilton caterers Kerr & Ladbrook tasted around 30 cheeses assessing them for flavour and suitably and uses in cooking before awarding the 2022 Rutherford & Meyer Chefs’ Choice Trophy to Mount Eliza Cheese, Blue Monkey. Made by Chris and Jill Whalley at Mount Eliza Cheese, Kati Kati, Bay of Plenty this blue cheese is crafted from pasteurised cow's milk and vegetarian rennet. 

A special congratulations goes to Geraldine Cheese Company, who won the dish Magazine Champion Sheep Cheese Award for their Sheep Feta. And thanks to who provided great accommodation for dish Magazine Editor Sarah Tuck who presented the award in Hamilton. 

NZ Champions of Cheese judging


NZ Champions of Cheese 2022 Supreme Awards are; 

  • Countdown Champion of Champion Cheese Award - Commercial; Open Country Dairy Young Cheddar (Aged less than 6 months)
  • New World Champion of Champion Cheese Award - Mid-sized; Little River Estate, Little River Mt Richmond
  • Puhoi Valley Cheese Champion of Champions Cheese Award - Boutique; Craggy Range Sheep Dairy, Maraetotara Manchego
  • MilkTestNZ Champion Cheesemaker; Cathy Lang, Fonterra Co-operative Group

NZ Champions of Cheese 2022 Category Trophies are; 

  • Ecolab Champion Blue Cheese Award; Fonterra Brands New Zealand, Kāpiti Kahurangi Creamy Blue
  • Tetra Pak Champion Retail Cheddar Cheese Award; Fonterra Brands New Zealand, Mainland Tasty Light – Noble
  • Sealed Air Champion Bulk Cheddar Cheese Award; Open Country Dairy Young Cheddar (Aged less than 6 months)
  • AsureQuality Champion Dutch Style Cheese Award; Karikaas Natural Dairy Products, Vintage Gouda
  • IXOM Champion European Style Cheese Award; Little River Estate, Little River Mt Richmond
  • dish magazine Champion Sheep Cheese Award; Geraldine Cheese Company, Sheep Feta
  • Dominion Salt New Zealand Champion Export Cheese Award; Fonterra Brands New Zealand, Kāpiti Kikorangi Triple Cream Blue
  • Sabato Champion Farmhouse Cheese Award; Meyer Cheese, Fenugreek
  • Big Chill Distribution Champion Fresh Flavour Added Cheese Award; Over the Moon Dairy, Black Truffle Brie
  • Sansmart Champion Aged Flavour Added Cheese Award; Meyer Cheese, Smoked Gouda
  • IFF Champion Fresh Unripened Cheese Award; Zany Zeus Crème Fraiche
  • Cheeselinks Champion Fresh Italian Style Cheese Award; Massimo's Italian Cheeses, Burrata
  • OJI Fibre Solutions Champion Goat Cheese Award; Meyer Cheese, Goats Milk Gouda
  • Kiwi Labels Champion Greek/Cypriot Cheese Award; Waimata Cheese, Waimata Chilli Haloumi
  • Wintec Champion New Cheese Award; Craggy Range Sheep Dairy, Maraetotara Manchego
  • Fonterra Co-operative Group Champion Original Cheese Award; Whitestone Cheese Co, Vintage Five Forks
  • CHR Hansen Champion Soft White Rind Cheese Award; Fonterra Brands New Zealand, Kāpiti Akatea Traditional Brie (small)
  • Thermaflo Champion Washed Rind Cheese Award; Fonterra Brands New Zealand, Kāpiti Rarama Washed Rind

The NZ Champions of Cheese 2022 Special Awards are; 

  • Countdown Sustainability Award; Hōhepa Hawke’s Bay
  • Good George Brewery Innovation Award; Belle Chèvre Creamery Raspberry Bonbons
  • New World Cheese Lovers’ Choice; Puhoi Valley Camembert
  • Rutherford & Meyer Chefs’ Choice Award; Mount Eliza Cheese, Blue Monkey
  • Curds & Whey Champion Amateur Cheesemaker & Cheese; St Peter's College, SPC Blue
  • NZSCA Champion Butter; Fonterra Co-operative Group, Fonterra Cultured Butter Edgecumbe
  • Countdown Champion Yoghurt Award; Clevedon Buffalo Vanilla Bean Yoghurt

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