Franschhoek has shown its quality of winemaking, by having two of its vignerons (Boekenhoutskloof and Chamonix) being named the top winery by Platter in the past two years.  Now the Winelands village is the Cheese Capital of South Africa too, in that Dalewood Fromage has been awarded the 2013 Dairy Product of the Year, for its six month matured Huguenot cheese, at the DuPont Qualité Awards dinner of the SA Dairy Championships.

Dalewood Fromage is located on the outskirts of Franschhoek, and is known for its excellent quality cheeses.  Its Huguenot cheese is the largest wheel of cheese made in our country, has a semi-hard brushed rind, and is slowly matured for six months.  It has an intense flavour, with nutty nuances.  Cheesemaker Rob Visser developed the cheese ten years ago.  SA Dairy Championships’ chief judge Kobus Mulder said of the cheese: ‘If this cheese should be available in the Haute Savoie region of France, those discerning cheese experts would appreciate it no end’.

Twelve dairy products were awarded the Qualité mark of dairy excellence:  Simonsberg Matured Gouda, Woolworths Mild Cheddar White, Woolworths Salted Butter (all three produced by Parmalat), Klein River Grana, Klein River SA Gruyere, Clover Processed cheese slices, Dalewood Fromage six month matured Huguenot cheese, Woolworths Magical Mousse Swirls (made by Fair Cape Dairies), Fairview Chevin with Garlic and Herbs, Woolworths plain fat free smooth cottage cheese (made by Lancewood), Langbaken Karoo Cheese’s Karoo Crumble, and Rhodes Food Group’s Fior di Latte.  Interesting is the domination of the Woolworths brand on this list, although their products were made by three different suppliers!  An additional 95 dairy products were awarded SA Champions, out of the total of about 800 dairy products entered by 69 artisanal and commercial producers.  A team of 59 judges, including dairy specialists and food writers, evaluated the top dairy products.

The SA Dairy Championships results reflect the passion and quality that goes into the making of dairy products, not only by artisanal producers, but also by the large dairy companies.

Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfoilio: www.whalecottage.com Twitter: @WhaleCottage

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