3rd Cretan Olive Oil Competition: Impressive Results in a Difficult Year

The third edition of the competition had more entries and a higher percentage of organic olive oils than in previous years.

Eleftheria Germanaki, with Botzakis company representatives
By Lisa Radinovsky
Mar. 16, 2017 10:49 UTC
Eleftheria Germanaki, with Botzakis company representatives

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At an awards cer­e­mony in Rethymno, Crete, Greece on March 12, win­ners of the 3rd Cretan Olive Oil Competition were announced. Intended to high­light the qual­ity of Cretan extra vir­gin olive oils, this third edi­tion of the com­pe­ti­tion impressed com­men­ta­tors for sev­eral rea­sons, includ­ing bet­ter qual­ity olive oil, more sam­ples, and a higher per­cent­age of organic olive oils sub­mit­ted com­pared to pre­vi­ous years.

It is our love for Crete that brings us here.- Babis Doukakis, Kardia Foods

The win­ners for organic extra vir­gin olive oils (EVOOs) were Kardia Food’s Diva and Cretan Mill’s Agrelia Organic, tied for gold; Latzimas’s Latzimas Bio, with sil­ver; and in a tie for bronze, Kostas Kalligiannis’s Zero One Premium and Nutricreta’s Organic Oleum of Sitia. The win­ning con­ven­tional EVOOs were Botzakis (Creta Oil) Olyssos, cap­tur­ing the gold; Terra di Sitia’s Thema Extra Virgin Olive Oil, win­ning sil­ver; and in a three-way tie for bronze, Eftychis Androulakis’s Pamako Blend Mountain EVOO, Cretan Mill’s PDO Sitia, and Psarakis’ Harvest EVOO.

Although the plan was to award just one gold, one sil­ver, and one bronze Elea” (mean­ing olive”) award for the best con­ven­tional EVOOs and one of each for the best organic EVOOs, sev­eral extra awards were pre­sented because of a num­ber of iden­ti­cal scores. There were so many close high scores that hon­or­able men­tions were also awarded, reflect­ing the judges’ opin­ion that an impres­sive num­ber of high-qual­ity Cretan EVOOs were sub­mit­ted, even in this dif­fi­cult har­vest year.

Vaso Savvaki of Botzakis told Olive Oil Times that Creta Oil was very proud of their Gold Elea award, which rec­og­nizes the exper­tise they have acquired and shared with their pro­duc­ers and the care they take with prompt cold extrac­tion and proper stor­age pro­ce­dures, as well as the invest­ments they have made in their olive mills and one of the most mod­ern and inte­grated plants on the island of Crete.” Savvaki added, prizes that our com­pany won in inter­na­tional olive oil com­pe­ti­tions in the last three years fill us with strength to try even more to enhance the qual­ity of Cretan olive oil.”

Cretan Mill’s Maria Foule, who took home a Gold Elea for the Almpantakis family’s organic EVOO and a bronze for their con­ven­tional EVOO, told Olive Oil Times, We’ve been in olive oil pro­duc­tion for 150 years. We’re a fam­ily busi­ness. We put love, pas­sion, and soul into what we do. We believe in com­pe­ti­tions; they help us show what we do and what we love.” They export their EVOOs all over the world.

Babis Doukakis of Kardia Food explained that he was full of joy” about their Gold Elea and wanted to ded­i­cate the award to our extra­or­di­nary team who gave their very best.” He believes the spirit and courage to fail and the strength and dis­ci­pline to stand up and try it all over again is the main rea­son for DIVA EVOO’s being val­ued in kitchens world­wide, with an empha­sis on the high­est totally flaw­less qual­ity — excep­tional fla­vor and taste that wows all with a com­po­si­tion from youth and matu­rity, fresh­ness and depth.” Currently eval­u­at­ing busi­ness part­ners to bring DIVA to the great peo­ple of the United States of America,” Kardia Food is also more than thrilled to par­tic­i­pate in the world’s largest Olive Oil Competition in New York: NYIOOC 2017.”

All but two of the top ten win­ners at this Cretan com­pe­ti­tion were mono­va­ri­etal Koroneiki EVOOs. Kardia Food’s gold-awarded Diva is a mono­va­ri­etal Tsounati, while Androulakis’s bronze-win­ning Pamako Blend Mountain EVOO com­bines Koroneiki and Tsounati olives. Androulakis, whose organic Pamako Monovarietal Mountain EVOO, an hon­or­able men­tion and close con­tender for a bronze, is also a mono­va­ri­etal Tsounati, told Olive Oil Times, finally, all my efforts to raise Tsounati from the dead are rewarded.” To make a great olive oil took him 40 nights with very lit­tle sleep, four years of efforts, and 42 exper­i­ments with tem­per­a­tures, malax­a­tion, crush­ing, decanter speeds, 2 olive mills, and 3 dif­fer­ent inert gasses.

Philipp Notter, an expe­ri­enced Swiss judge at this and other com­pe­ti­tions, as well as a con­sul­tant, researcher, and writer praised the very atten­tive direc­tion of Eleftheria Germanaki and her staff” in Rethymno, Crete, which he found absolutely pro­fes­sional and seri­ous.” He also expressed great respect for the guid­ance of the panel by Effie Christopoulou. It is a guar­an­tee of the high­est com­pe­tence for this event (and I think she is also one of the most com­pe­tent and expe­ri­enced per­sons world­wide).” He believes the Cretan Olive Oil Competition can help Crete deal very, very care­fully with its great her­itage of olive oil.”

Effie Christopoulou is a panel super­vi­sor and rec­og­nized chem­i­cal and organolep­tic trainer of the IOC as well as a chem­i­cal expert for the EU and the IOC. One of the pio­neers of the organolep­tic method back in 1982, she told the audi­ence about the competition’s method­ol­ogy and com­pared this year’s sam­ples with those from the last two years. Christopoulou was pleased to report that there had been an increase from 69 to 81 sam­ples sub­mit­ted from 2015 to this year and a marked improve­ment in the per­cent­age of sam­ples with a grade of at least 65, from 84.1 per­cent in 2015 to 98.8 per­cent this year. Now, she added, it is nec­es­sary to take mea­sures for Greek EVOOs to become bet­ter known in inter­na­tional com­pe­ti­tions.

Eleftheria Germanaki, with Botzakis company representatives

Italian agron­o­mist, olive oil cul­ti­va­tion expert, con­sul­tant, inter­na­tion­ally rec­og­nized judge, and 2014 NYIOOC panel leader Giuseppe Antonio Lauro was the other panel super­vi­sor for this com­pe­ti­tion. He gave a pre­sen­ta­tion about the impor­tance of var­i­ous forms of mar­ket­ing, empha­siz­ing con­sumers’ inter­est in the story behind each prod­uct. Lauro told Olive Oil Times that he, too, was struck by the notable improve­ment in the qual­ity of Cretan olive oil since the first Cretan com­pe­ti­tion just three years ago; in spite of the dif­fi­cult har­vest year, this year’s sam­ple qual­ity was fan­tas­tic.”

Before awards were pre­sented, the mayor of Rethymno and the gov­er­nor of Crete com­mented on the impor­tance of Cretan olive oil as an export that is rec­og­nized world­wide. Manolis Chnaris, pres­i­dent of the competition’s main spon­sor, the Agronutritional Cooperation of the Region of Crete, called olive oil the most impor­tant prod­uct on the island” and empha­sized the impor­tance of stan­dard­iz­ing more Cretan olive oil to give it a strong iden­tity” so it would be more com­pet­i­tive in the inter­na­tional mar­ket, rather than being sold anony­mously in bulk.

Judge Philipp Notter said he was proud to be here because in Crete you are in the his­tory of olive oil – at the roots,” and I respect the roots.” Kardia Food’s Babis Doukakis told Olive Oil Times that his com­pany intends to con­tinue infus­ing their olive oil with a breath of our own spirit, cre­at­ing a vision of Crete the world joy­ously shares. It is our love for Crete that brings us here,” to win a Gold Elea at the 3rd Cretan Olive Oil Competition.


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