Yoghurt made from buffalo milk and butter from a boutique producer have been named Champions in the 2015 New Zealand Champions of Cheese Awards.

Forty-five yoghurts and butters were entered in this year’s awards, the first time these categories have been judged alongside cheese.

 Made on the shores of the Hauraki Gulf, Clevedon Valley Buffalo Company’s Buffalo Boysenberry Yoghurt has won the very first Green Valley Dairies Champion Yoghurt Award.

Receiving the inaugural Food for Chefs Champion Butter Award is Lewis Road Creamery for its Lewis Road Creamery Premium Butter lightly salted.

“Adding these two exciting categories into the awards is a fitting way to acknowledge other areas of New Zealand’s flourishing dairy industry,” Awards Organiser, Tony Goode, said.

“We’re thrilled with the results for the category debut and are hoping to see more yoghurt and butter producers embrace this award in years to come.”

Over 470 New Zealand specialty cheeses, yoghurts and butters were judged over two days in this year’s competition, with winners announced at a gala dinner and awards ceremony at The Langham in Auckland on Tuesday 17th March.

Thirty one of New Zealand’s most experienced dairy connoisseurs were joined by international judges. The panel was led by one of Australasia’s most experienced cheese judges and renowned cheese educator, Russell Smith.

Each yoghurt and butter was examined by a technical and aesthetic judge as a duo and strictly graded to gold, silver and bronze standards.

“Our highly-qualified technical judges were impressed by the quality of the yoghurt and butter presented this year,” Smith said.

Smith described Clevedon Valley’s Buffalo Boysenberry Yoghurt as, “a yoghurt with good acid development which is nicely complimented with the boysenberry flavour.”

“The sugar level is low enough that the natural fruit flavour can really shine ensuring a clean, berry flavour,” Smith said.

Green Valley Dairies Champion Yoghurt Award winner Clevedon Valley Buffalo Company boasts a herd of over 200 buffalo. Husband and wife owners Richard and Helen Dorresteyn have been producing award-winning buffalo cheese since 2007. The movement into the yoghurt category began in 2010 with the first batch of natural flavour produced.

“We’re so wrapped that the Boysenberry has won the award, a flavour we have worked very hard to perfect,” Clevedon Valley Buffalo’s, Richard Dorresteyn, said.

“We have doubled the solids to ensure we produce a range of buffalo yoghurt that is consistently thick and creamy,” adds Dorresteyn.

 Clevedon Valley Buffalo also took home three silver medals for other yoghurt flavours – Lemon Zest, Passionfruit, and Vanilla Bean, reflecting the consistent quality of the range.

In the cheese category, Clevedon Valley Buffalo won the Epic Beer Champion Export Cheese Award for their Clevedon Valley Buffalo Mozzarella for the first time.

The Food for Chefs Champion Butter Award was awarded to Lewis Road Creamery who launched the highly-sought-after Fresh Chocolate Milk last year (made with Whittakers Milk Chocolate). The business that is the brainchild of entrepreneur Peter Cullinane and business partner Andrew Railton launched their European-style premium butter range in 2012.

Lewis Road Creamery’s Premium Butter lightly salted is made with churned full-fat cream from a mixed herd by Canary Food Innovators in Te Rapa, Hamilton.

Smith said the Lewis Road Creamery’s Premium Butter lightly salted is the perfect balance of texture and flavour.

“It doesn’t get any better than this,” Smith said.

It’s an absolute honour to win this award and so brilliant to have butter recognised in the awards,” says Lewis Road Creamery Marketing Director, Angela Weeks.

“Butter is where we started so it’s a very important part of our business and a particular passion of our founder, Peter Cullinane.”

“We are blown away by Russell Smith’s comments,” adds Weeks.

“See, we can do more than just chocolate milk!”

Lewis Road Creamery achieved 100 per cent award success with all entries receiving a medal. The Lewis Road Creamery Artisan butter won a silver medal and the Lewis Road Creamery Premium Butter unsalted received a bronze.



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