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Dalewood-Fromage-Huguenot

Dalewood’s Huguenot cheese wears SA’s 2013 dairy crown

The six-month matured Huguenot cheese from Dalewood Fromage, a cheesery in the heart of the Cape Winelands, has been judged as the 2013 Dairy Product of the Year, trouncing some 800 products entered by 69 artisan and commercial producers.

Twelve exceptional dairy products that earned the most coveted Qualité mark of excellence joined this winning cheese on the podium during the recent DuPont Qualité Awards Dinner of the SA Dairy Championships. An additional 95 products were lauded as SA Champions.

“The SA Dairy Championships is South Africa’s oldest and most authoritative competition where the country’s large variety of dairy products pits themselves against their rivals,” says Johan Ehlers, CEO of Agri-Expo, the agricultural society that has been organising this competition for the past 179 years. “Consumers and food experts are quite familiar with the black and gold Qualité symbol, SA’s only symbol of dairy excellence.”

Products, in categories for butter, cheese, cottage cheese, yoghurt, flavoured milk, dairy dips, ice cream and dairy desserts were tried and tested by a team of 59 seasoned dairy specialists and leading food editors and writers.

According to Kobus Mulder, cheese consultant and the main judge, raw milk cheese was for the first time judged in a separate class. “Especially artisan cheeseries are increasingly experimenting with the creation of raw milk cheese,” he explains. “The taste of raw milk cheese is more intense and ardent cheese lovers really appreciate this product.”

The formidable team of judges agreed: the variety and quality of products are still increasing. “Consumers’ expectations in terms of quality grow as their taste for cheese and their knowledge develops. Cheese makers, in turn, realise that a wide variety alone cannot account for increased sales; rather quality plays the decisive role,” says Kobus Mulder.

SA Dairy Product of the Year

The Huguenot cheese, the largest wheel of cheese manufactured in South Africa, is a semi hard, brushed rind cheese that is slowly matured for at least six months. Although the flavour is intense with nutty nuances, consumers enjoy this product as part of a cheese board or in a dish.

The winning cheese with its unique flavour and texture was developed in 2003 by Rob Visser. “If this cheese should be available in the Haute Savoie region of France, those discerning cheese experts would appreciate it no end,” says Mulder.

The high quality milk from the farm’s own Jersey herd, which are not treated with growth or milk enhancing hormones, forms an integral part of Dalewood Fromage’s winning recipe.

Qualité winners

A mere twelve superior products were honoured this year with the Qualité mark of excellence: Parmalat’s Simonsberg Matured Gouda, the Woolworths Mild Cheddar White and the Woolworths Salted Butter. Following closely in terms of the number of Qualité Awards is Klein River Cheese with two awards for their Grana and SA Gruyere. Other companies with Qualité winners include Clover, Dalewood Fromage, Fair Cape Dairies, Fairview Cheese Company, Lancewood, Langbaken Karoo Cheese and Rhodes Food Groupwith one award each.

SA Champions

95 outstanding dairy products were crowned as SA Champions. Parmalat, South Africa’s largest producer of dairy products, lead with no less than 16 champions, followed by Lancewood Holdings and Fair Cape Dairies with 13 champions each. Fairview boasts with 7 champions, Belnori Boutique Cheesery with 5 and Clover earned 4.

For more information about the SA Championships visit www.cheesesa.co.za.

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