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Sparkenhoe Red Leicester


Cheese: Sparkenhoe Red Leicester (lester)

Who: David and Jo Clarke, Sparkenhoe Farm near Upton, Leicestershire

Where: near Upton, Leicestershire, UK

Milk Type: Cow, raw

Texture: hard

Rind: cloth-bound

Shape: 22 & 44lb wheels

Flavor: balanced and smooth like mild cheddar, rich, tangy, lasting

If you’re not a total cheese geek you’re likely unaware that the industrial revolution just about killed traditional, Artisan, farmstead cheese making in the UK (and the US) during the 19th and early 20th centuries. The rise of the factories gave rise to factory cheese making and along with it pasteurization and homogenization and… fewer original cheeses and blander products. Because of that, and two world wars we just about lost real Leicester cheese altogether in the 1930’s.

Thankfully, as is the case with much of today’s artisan movement, one small farm has returned another glorious cheese to the cheesemonger’s counter. David and Jo Clarke of Sparkenhoe Farm revived Red Leicester in 2005, probably the first to do so in 50 years.

Red Leicester get’s its bright orange color (as do most similar cheeses) from the additional of Annatto coloring. The flavor is delightfully, rich, deep, milky, with a cheddary tang that hangs around… But it’s not sharp and biting. This is a great cheese for those who appreciate something milder but never bland.

What to drink with it: quality ales, lighter reds. I see where many suggest it with Tempranillo/Rioja which I am itching to try as it’s a personal favorite wine region.

Map courtesy Cellar Tours

Meet the makers.


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