Two new cheeses from two New Zealand cheesemakers of Dutch origin have claimed the top prizes at the 2017 NZ Champions of Cheese Awards.

The Smoke Goat Gouda by Meyer Gouda Cheese was judged as the Countdown Champion of Champions (Commercial), and Fifty Fifty by Mercer Cheese was awarded as the Puhoi Valley Champion of Champions (Artisan).

Both Meyer Gouda Cheese and Mercer Cheese are from the Waikato and both have won top honours in the past with traditional Dutch style cheeses. This year it was their innovation with new cheeses that set them apart from the hundreds of entries submitted for judging.

Both the Champion of Champions cheeses were gold medallists in the Ministry for Primary Industries New Cheese category.

The best New Zealand cheeses were judged by an unprecedented contingent of 34 international and local cheese experts, from more than 370 entries.

“Dutch Kiwis have a growing reputation for making inspirational cheeses with New Zealand milks,” Master Judge and Australian cheese guru Russell Smith said.

“The Smoked Goat Gouda by Meyer Gouda Cheese is an absolutely gorgeous goat cheese, and a pleasure to eat.”

Smith was also clearly impressed with Fifty Fifty by Mercer Cheese describing it as a beautifully aged gouda, with complex sweet and savoury flavours coming from the combination of cow and goat milk.

While new cheeses dominated the top three prizes, 2017 saw a popular Kiwi blue cheese take out a number of categories. Kapiti Kikorangi from Fonterra Brands NZ won the Ecolab Champion Blue Cheese Award, the Renco New Zealand Export Cheese Award and Fonterra Champion Original Cheese Award making it officially the most decorated blue cheese in Awards history.