How many Canadian Grand Prix finalists have you tasted?

Cheesemakers from British Columbia to Prince Edward Island submitted a record 225 cheeses in 19 different categories in the 2013 Canadian Cheese Grand Prix, this country’s most prestigious cheese competition sponsored by Dairy Farmers of Canada.

A jury of eight cheese experts gathered in Montreal for a closed-door session a week ago to select 58 finalists that exemplify the world-class cheese being produced in Canada. Two cheesemakers—Fromagerie du Presbytère of Québec and Sylvan Star Cheese of Alberta—dominated the finalists with six selections each.

The 2013 Grand Champion and category champions will be unveiled at the Canadian Cheese Grand Prix Gala of Champions in Montreal on April 18. The competition is restricted to cheese made with cow’s milk.

The first time many of the winners will be available for tasting and purchase by the public in one place will be at the third annual Great Canadian Cheese Festival on June 1-2 in Picton in Ontario’s Prince Edward County.

Here are the 2013 Canadian Cheese Grand Prix finalists, with cheese shown left to right in order of listing:

FARMHOUSE CHEESE

ORGANIC CHEESE

FRESH CHEESE

FRESH CHEESE WITH GRILLING PROPERTIES

SOFT CHEESE WITH BLOOMY RIND

SEMI-SOFT CHEESE

WASHED OR MIXED RIND CHEESE (SOFT, SEMI-SOFT AND FIRM)

FIRM CHEESE

GOUDA

SWISS-TYPE CHEESE

MOZZARELLA (BALL, BRICK OR CYLINDER)

BLUE CHEESE (VARIOUS RINDS, WITH OR WITHOUT VEINING)

FLAVOURED CHEESE WITH ADDED NON-PARTICULATE FLAVOURINGS

FLAVOURED CHEESE WITH ADDED PARTICULATE SOLIDS AND FLAVOURINGS

MILD CHEDDAR (AGED 3 MONTHS)

MEDIUM CHEDDAR (AGED 4 TO 9 MONTHS)*

*Four finalists were elected in this category due to a tie between two scores.

OLD CHEDDAR (AGED FROM 9 MONTHS TO A YEAR)

AGED CHEDDAR (MORE THAN 1 YEAR UP TO 3 YEARS)

AGED CHEDDAR (MORE THAN 3 YEARS)

The Canadian Cheese Grand Prix is sponsored and hosted every two years by Dairy Farmers of Canada, celebrating the high quality, versatility and great taste of Canadian cheese made from 100% Canadian cow’s milk.

“Canadian cheese makers from coast-to-coast are producing top quality, impressive cheeses,” said Phil Bélanger, Canadian Cheese Grand Prix jury chairman. “The diversity we saw within the 19 categories really showcases how evolved this craft has become in Canada. From aged Cheddars to organic cheeses, cheesemakers from across Canada are taking it to the next level and are the envy of other cheesemaking nations.”

The jury members had the envious challenge of tasting all 225 cheeses and naming three finalists in each category. Tasting began with the milder cheeses and progressed to the more full-bodied varieties. Jury members carefully observed, touched, smelled, and tasted each cheese and evaluated them based on very specific criteria including flavour, texture and body, colour, appearance, and salt content.

The Canadian Cheese Grand Prix began in 1998 to promote achievement and innovation in cheesemaking and to increase appreciation for fine quality Canadian cheese. The competition celebrates the proud tradition of the diverse cheeses made in Canada with cow’s milk ranging from Gouda to Blue cheese.

All eligible cheeses must be produced in Canada, bear the 100% Canadian Milk symbol on their packaging and be available for purchase at retail.

Click here for photos of the judging action.

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