12 of the best blue cheeses from around the world

04 March 2024, 13:37 PM
  • Blue cheese is a must-have at the cheese counter, but does your shop sell these top-rated cheeses from the UK, Europe and beyond?
12 of the best blue cheeses from around the world

A staple on a cheeseboard or the star show of a meal, blue cheese can practically sell itself for many cheesemongers. But this versatile category has much more to offer than one or two well-known cheeses. The cheese counter is the perfect place to explore everything producers from around the world have to offer, from oozy, delicate cheeses to matured wheels that offer a punch of serious flavour.

Speciality Food explores experienced cheesemongers’ favourite blues and award-winning recipes from the UK, Europe and even further afield.

Best blue cheeses in the UK

Stichelton – Nottinghamshire, England

“Stichelton is an exquisite blue cheese crafted with raw milk, following an ancient British blue cheese recipe,” says Svetlana Kukharchuk of The Cheese Lady, who rates Stichelton as one of the best blue cheeses in the UK. “Its buttery, creamy texture accompanies a long, intricate flavour profile characterised by toasty, malty and milky sweetness.”

The cheese is made on the Welbeck Estate in Nottinghamshire by Joe Schneider. “The complexity of taste derived from raw cow’s milk unfolds gradually, leaving a lasting impression,” Svetlana says, crediting its raw milk and traditional recipe as the factors that really set it apart from alternatives. “The pinnacle of Stichelton production is achieved during the summer months when cows graze on lush grass, resulting in cheeses matured just in time for Christmas.”

Colston Bassett Stilton – Nottinghamshire, England

“In many ways,” says Mark Kacary of The Norfolk Deli, Colston Bassett Stilton is “the king of blues.” Developed by Dr William Windley, Colston Bassett has always made its cheese in the traditional way, using milk from local farms within 1.5 miles of the dairy in the Vale of Belvoir. 

The cheese has won numerous accolades, including being named one of the top three Best British Cheese Brands in 2020, winning Best PDO/PGI Cheese at the 2018 Royal Bath & West Show in Somerset and being awarded a silver medal at the 2017 International Cheese Awards. “There is nothing better when you’re seeking a rich, almost opulent blue,” Mark says.

Shropshire Blue – Stafford, England

Produced by Long Clawson Dairy, Shropshire Blue was originally believed to have been made in Scotland, but it is now made in the Stilton producing regions of Nottinghamshire, Leicestershire and Derbyshire. After being matured for 10-12 weeks, the cheese has an orange-brown, natural rind and a smooth texture with a sharp, strong flavour.

The crumbly blue cheese is similar to a Stilton, but it is younger so has a creamier flavour. Long Clawson’s cheese was named Supreme Champion Cheese at the 2022 International Cheese and Dairy Awards.

Oxford Blue – Burford, England

Mark describes Oxford Blue as “a beautiful firm, creamy blue.” It’s “not as smack-in-your-face strong in flavour as a Blue Stilton would be, but with a milder level of blueness which is rich and comforting.”

Created by Baron Robert Pouget, owner of the Oxford Cheese Company, in the mid-1990s, Oxford Blue is semi-hard and creamy, made with English cow’s milk. The cheese is matured for about 10 weeks to create its signature flavour, and it has won several accolades in the British Cheese Awards.

Best blue cheeses in Europe

Montagnolo Affine – Allgäu, Germany

Montagnolo marries the creaminess of a soft cheese with the delicious, distinct flavour of a blue, and it’s been officially crowned a top-class cheese, having been voted Supreme Champion at the 2012 International Cheese Awards and the 2013 World Cheese Awards.

“I can’t remember how many times I have converted somebody who has proclaimed at the counter to not liking any blue cheeses only to be brave enough to humour me when I ask them to just try a sliver,” says Mark. “Nine times out of 10 they buy some. I like to call it a blue for beginners,” he says. 

Gorgonzola Dolce – Lombardy, Italy

For a mild blue, Gorgonzola Dolce is a classic in a cheesemonger’s arsenal. Luxuriously creamy, sweet and nutty, it’s an artisan cheese that truly shines. And, as The Little Cheesemonger’s Gemma Williams tells Speciality Food, it can be enjoyed on its own or with accompaniments. “I have a sweet tooth, and because of its creamy texture and sweet undertones, I can pair it with bread or go even sweeter with a fruity toast,” Gemma says. “The richness is simply irresistible.” 

Another good selling point for fine food retailers: Gemma adds that Gorgonzola Dolce is a cheese that should only be bought at the cheese counter. “The distinction must be made between a cheesemonger’s Gorgonzola and supermarket. They don’t taste like each other at all.”

Nidelven Blå – Trondheim, Norway

Made by fourth generation farmers at Gangstad Gårdsysteri, this handmade cow’s milk blue cheese won the title of world’s best cheese at the World Cheese Awards in 2023. Judges praised the cheese for the “short creaminess” and “dense fudginess” of its texture.

Finbar Deery of Sheridans Cheesemongers in Ireland, said he “absolutely loved” it, and was particularly impressed by the interplay between milk and blue flavours.

Roquefort Le Vieux Berger – Midi-Pyrénées, France

Roquefort, which has enjoyed AOC protected status since 1925, is known and loved around the world, and this variety is Svetlana’s top pick. “Roquefort Le Vieux Berger is produced by Maison Combes, a small family-run cheese producer which is the smallest out of seven existing producers of Roquefort,” she explains.

“Maison Combes are committed to creating authentic artisan cheese, just like in the olden days. Their cheese is only sold in specialist cheese shops and each piece is hand-cut from the wheel, never vacuum-packed, preserving its remarkable flavour, texture, and aroma.”

The end result is an “exceptional” complex flavour that Svetlana calls a “revelation”. “Its well-balanced flavour profile boasts hints of spice, richness and a subtle nuttiness. The paste is velvety and generously marbled with deep pockets of blue veins, offering a rich and creamy experience on the palate,” Svetlana says. 

Gemma agrees that Roquefort deserves top billing for those who like a stronger cheese. It is, she says, “a perfect balance between the salty blue and the delicate essence of sheep’s milk. It’s a true original masterpiece of cheese!”

Grand Noir – Allgäu, Germany

This rich, creamy blue cheese is mellow and melts in the mouth. It has a distinctive flavour from its time ageing in a wax black mantle. “This German cheese combines so many different elements to it,” Mark says. “A little bit Gorgonzola, a little bit Montagnolo. It is, however, absolutely delicious.”

Grand Noir’s status as a top blue cheese was further confirmed when it won the title of best blue cheese in the world by the World Cheese Championships.

Best blue cheeses beyond Europe

Kāpiti Kikorangi Triple Cream Blue – Taranaki, New Zealand

As the Reserve in the Supreme Champion category at the International Cheese and Dairy Awards 2023, this blue cheese is a guaranteed favourite. The handcrafted cow’s milk cheese has a smooth, golden curd and a buttery texture marbled with blue veining. 

Mossvale Blue Cheese — Australia

Created by artisan cheesemakers at Berry’s Creek Gourmet Cheese, Mossvale Blue is a smooth-textured blue with a lightly salty and sweet aftertaste. The multi-gold-award-winning cheese has stormed local food shows in Australia thanks to its distinct regional character, and at the World Cheese Awards in 2023 it was named Supreme Specialist/Artisan Cheesemaker.

Rogue River Blue – Oregon, USA

The limited edition, seasonal Rogue River Blue by Rogue Creamery achieved worldwide fame when it was named World Champion at the 2019/2020 World Cheese Awards. The cheese is aged in caves for nine to 11 months before being hand-wrapped in organic biodynamic Syrah grape leaves soaked in pear spirits.

Do you disagree with this selection? What do you consider the best blue cheeses in the world? Get in touch with courtney.goldsmith@artichokehq.com

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