5 finalists announced in 2018 World Championship Cheese Contest

MADISON — For two days, a judging pool of 53 cheese graders, dairy scientists and industry experts from around the world sampled cheeses from 26 countries and 32 states, narrowing down a list of 3,402 entries to 20 finalists as part of the 2018 World Championship Cheese Contest.

Five Wisconsin cheeses, including two from Master Cheesemaker Mike Matucheski of Sartori Cheese, are in consideration to be named the 2018 Grand Champion.

Finalists include:

English Hollow Cheddar
Class 4: Cheddar, Aged One to Two Years
Maker: Maple Leaf Cheesemaking Team
Maple Leaf Cheesemakers, Inc.
Monroe, Wisconsin
Maple Leaf English Hollow Cheddar is aged at least 12 months to develop a complex, nutty flavor.

Mild Gouda
Class 39: Mild Gouda
Maker: Eric Steltenpohl
Saxon Cheese, LLC
Cleveland, Wisconsin
Saxon Gouda has a creamy, smooth texture and sweet, rich milky flavor.

Sartori Reserve Espresso BellaVitano
Class 69: Open Class: Flavored Cheeses with Sweet or ‘Dessert’ Condiments
Maker: Mike Matucheski
Sartori Company
Antigo, Wisconsin
Wheels of Sartori Espresso BellaVitano® are hand-rubbed with freshly roasted espresso adding a sweet finish to the cheese.

Cave Aged Chandoka
Class 102: Surface (Mold) Ripened Mixed Milk Cheeses
Maker: David Rogers and Team LaClare
LaClare Family Creamery
Malone, Wisconsin
Bandage-wrapped in linen and aged for a minimum of six months, this cow and goat milk cheddar is bold, tangy and fruity.

Sartori Limited Edition Pastorale Blend
Class 103: Hard Mixed Milk Cheeses
Mike Matucheski and Erin Radtke
Sartori Company
Antigo, Wisconsin
Sartori Pastorale Blend® is made with cow’s and sheep’s milk. The wheels are hand-dusted with paprika resulting in a creamy, earthly flavor and slightly smoky finish.

The 2018 Grand Champion will be announced at 8:15 p.m.Thursday at the Monona Terrace in Madison, Wisconsin.

The announcement can be viewed via Facebook Live on World Championship Cheese Contest Facebook Page.