Cote Hill Cheese
When they won a Gold at the British Cheese Awards after just one year, Michael and Mary Davenport must have realised they were doing something right.
Their trademark Cote Hill Blue has gone on to win many more gongs, not least a two-star Gold at the Great Taste Awards in 2011. So what makes it so special?
Happy, well cared-for cows, high quality pasture, unpasteurised milk and skilled cheesemaking undoubtedly contribute. The Davenports have been dairy farming for 30 years and started cheesemaking in 2005. Their herd of around 70, mainly Friesians with a few Holsteins and Red Polls, produce protein-rich milk ideal for cheese. They graze on mature pasture with a good clover mix and can often be found out in the fields with the sun on their backs well into November. In the heart of winter they get the farm’s own red clover haylage and maize and grass silage. Like a fine French wine, there’s a distinct sense of ‘terroir’ here.
It results in a soft, mild blue that is perfect on a cheeseboard but soft enough to be baked for a dinner party starter. “It’s a quite different cheese to other local blues such as Stilton, which has a dry rind,” says Michael Davenport. “Ours is developed more in the style of a cambozola and left to ripen naturally.” Cote Hill also produces two other cheeses and is working others.
“We’ll be staying a family business focusing on hand-crafted products,” says Michael. “Mechanising would change the cheese totally – individual handling gives the cheese its distinct characteristics.”
You can find Cote Hill cheeses at leading retailers around the Midlands, including Great Food Club member businesses The Melton Cheeseboard and Stamford Cheese Cellar. You can also order directly from the farm or buy from the Cote Hill market stall, which is a regular at the following markets:
Sleaford (first Saturday of the month)
Lincoln Castle (third Saturday)
Brigg (fourth Saturday).
Cote Hill also stands at other events – see its events page.
10% off at the Cote Hill market stall on production of your Great Food Club membership card.