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Swiss Emmentaler named best cheese

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Judges for the 2014 World Championship Cheese Contest hold the winner, a Swiss Emmentaler, on Wednesday. (Carrie Antlfinger/The Associated Press)

Judges for the 2014 World Championship Cheese Contest hold the winner, a Swiss Emmentaler, on Wednesday. (Carrie Antlfinger/The Associated Press)

MADISON, Wis. – A Swiss Emmentaler has been named the top cheese at an international competition in Wisconsin, handing the nation its fourth win in the past five years.

Cheesemaker Gerard Sinnesberger took top honors at the 2014 World Championship Cheese Contest with his Original Schweizer Rohmilch Emmentaler, a large format, big wheel Swiss cheese.

Out of possible 100 points, the Emmentaler scored 97.85 in the final round of judging Wednesday. The cheese was deemed the best of 2,615 entries from 22 countries.

An Austrian entry, called Erzherzog Johann, was second. Another Swiss entry, Gruyere AOP, was third.

A U.S. cheesemaker hasn’t won the contest sponsored by the Wisconsin Cheese Makers Association since 1988, according to the Wisconsin State Journal.

Although Americans weren’t in the top three this year, they took home the most medals, winning 59 of the 90 categories judged. Switzerland came in second with seven gold medals, while the Netherlands had five.

Among U.S. contestants, Wisconsin dominated with 33 gold medals. Chief judge Bob Aschenbrock credited the quality of milk produced by Wisconsin farmers and work done by state agriculture officials and the Center for Dairy Research at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

“They’ve improved the milk supply immensely in the last 15 to 20 years. When I was making cheese back in the 1960s and 1970s, it was nothing like it is today. Everybody else follows our lead, basically,” said Aschenbrock.

Four Wisconsin cheese makers made it to the final round: Brenda Jensen, of Hidden Springs Creamery, with a hard mixed milk cheese; Marieke Penterman, of Holland’s Family Cheese, with an aged Gouda; Katie Hedrich-Fuhrmann, of LaClare Farms, with a hard goat cheese; and Steve Bierhals, of BelGioioso Cheese, with a Parmesan.

Holland’s Family Cheese won best of show last year.

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