`2nd Olive Oil Competition Highlights Cretan Brands

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2nd Olive Oil Competition Highlights Cretan Brands

Mar. 25, 2016
Lisa Radinovsky

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The 2nd Cre­tan Olive Oil Com­pe­ti­tion took place March 19 to 20 in Rethymno, Crete. Orga­nized by the Agronu­tri­tional Part­ner­ship of the Region of Crete and the Pre­fec­ture of Crete in coop­er­a­tion with a num­ber of promi­nent Cre­tan orga­ni­za­tions involved with olive oil, the com­pe­ti­tion awarded prizes for the best stan­dard­ized Cre­tan con­ven­tional and organic extra vir­gin olive oils (EVOOs) from the 2015 – 16 pro­duc­tion sea­son.

For con­ven­tional EVOO, the high­est honor, the Gold ELEA (or olive”), was awarded to Liokarpi PDO, a Koroneiki mono­va­ri­etal from Emmanouil Pro­toger­akis Sons. The Sil­ver ELEA went to Omega, a Koroneiki/Tsounati blend from Kar­dia Food. And the Bronze ELEA was won by Toplou Sitia, a Koroneiki from Biokallier­gites Sitias.

For organic EVOO, the Gold ELEA was again awarded to Emmanouil Pro­toger­akis Sons for another Koroneiki, Liokarpi Bio, while Kar­dia Food cap­tured both the Sil­ver ELEA, for Kar­dia Tsounati, and the Bronze ELEA, for Kar­dia Koroneiki.

This year’s dou­ble Gold ELEA win­ner, Emmanouil Pro­toger­akis Sons of Vori in south cen­tral Crete, is con­tin­u­ing a fam­ily tra­di­tion of ded­i­ca­tion to high qual­ity EVOO that began in 1930, when Evan­ge­los Pro­toger­akis founded the first olive oil fac­tory in Kamares, Her­ak­lion pre­fec­ture. After con­tin­u­ous upgrad­ing and mod­ern­iza­tion of the pro­duc­tion and stor­age facil­i­ties, the com­pany is now run by broth­ers Van­ge­lis and Michalis Pro­toger­akis, grand­sons of the founder. This win­ner of mul­ti­ple awards, includ­ing two at BIOL inter­na­tional com­pe­ti­tions, exports to Ger­many and the USA.

Kar­dia Food, win­ner of both of this year’s Sil­ver ELEA awards and one of the bronze ELEA prizes, aims for flaw­less taste” while trans­form­ing the unique aura and the man­i­fold fla­vors of Crete into mas­ter­ful food acces­si­ble to as many peo­ple as pos­si­ble.” Accord­ing to man­ag­ing direc­tor Babis Doukakis, olives near the vil­lage of Episkopi in north cen­tral Crete are processed within a few hours at the unusu­ally low tem­per­a­ture of 20 degrees Cel­sius — a rar­ity, espe­cially in Greece. The result: EVOOs with low acid­ity and high polyphe­nol con­tent, espe­cially for their Tsounati, which also won a gold award at the 2015 New York Inter­na­tional Olive Oil Com­pe­ti­tion (NYIOOC).

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The Cre­tan Olive Oil Competition’s two-stage eval­u­a­tion process, with a chem­i­cal eval­u­a­tion and a blind organolep­tic test (for taste and odor), used the same sta­tis­ti­cal method as the Inter­na­tional Olive Council’s (IOC) Mario Soli­nas com­pe­ti­tion. Most of the 71 sam­ples came from the Koroneiki olives com­mon in Crete. The com­pe­ti­tion was coor­di­nated by Eleft­he­ria Ger­manaki, the panel super­vi­sor at the Rethymno organolep­tic lab­o­ra­tory, a judge for numer­ous inter­na­tional com­pe­ti­tions, and a panel leader at the 2015 NYIOOC.

Ital­ian agron­o­mist, olive oil cul­ti­va­tion expert, con­sul­tant, inter­na­tion­ally rec­og­nized judge, and 2014 NYIOOC panel leader Giuseppe Anto­nio Lauro was one of the two panel super­vi­sors for this com­pe­ti­tion. He praised the pro­fes­sion­al­ism of the judges, empha­siz­ing that the results of the taste tests pre­sented a very small stan­dard devi­a­tion.

The competition’s other panel leader was Effie Christopoulou, a panel super­vi­sor and rec­og­nized chem­i­cal and organolep­tic trainer of the IOC and chem­i­cal expert for the EU and the IOC. One of the pio­neers of the organolep­tic method back in 1982, Christopoulou tasted many excel­lent EVOOs at this com­pe­ti­tion, not­ing hints of fresh grass and arti­choke among the most mem­o­rable fla­vors in the Cre­tan oils.

The awards were pre­sented by the gov­er­nor of Crete, Stavros Arnaoutakis, the pres­i­dent of the Agronu­tri­tional Part­ner­ship of the Region of Crete, Mano­lis Chnaris, and the mayor of Rethymno and pres­i­dent of the Asso­ci­a­tion of Cre­tan Olive Munic­i­pal­i­ties (SEDIK), Gior­gos Mari­nakis. Before the awards were announced, Gov­er­nor Arnaoutakis empha­sized the impor­tance of tak­ing advan­tage of the brand name of Crete” to pro­mote high qual­ity stan­dard­ized Cre­tan prod­ucts, since this could help Cre­tans emerge from the eco­nomic cri­sis.

Mayor Mari­nakis stressed the impor­tance of both res­i­dents and tourists using local prod­ucts rather than imports, link­ing agri­cul­tural pro­duc­tion to tourism while striv­ing for excel­lent qual­ity rather than a low price. Agronu­tri­tional Part­ner­ship pres­i­dent Chnaris sim­i­larly urged Cre­tans to aim to make the island a gas­tro­nomic des­ti­na­tion” for tourists, based on the famous Cre­tan diet and the olive oil cen­tral to it.

Giuseppe Anto­nio Lauro dis­cussed mar­ket­ing strate­gies, then Effie Christopoulou explained the blind tast­ing process used for the judg­ing of the sam­ples received (21 organic, 50 con­ven­tional). The nine Greek judges from the four regions of Crete and the two for­eign judges fol­lowed Mario Soli­nas cri­te­ria in two stages of tast­ings. Christopoulou explained that the judges were so impressed by the improved qual­ity of this year’s sam­ples and the very slight dif­fer­ences among the best oils that they went on to award fif­teen hon­or­able men­tions in addi­tion to gold, sil­ver, and bronze awards.

Those high qual­ity Cre­tan EVOOs deserved more than just six awards. Com­pe­ti­tion orga­niz­ers hope to both inspire Cre­tan pro­duc­ers to con­tinue aim­ing for excel­lence and high­light the won­der­ful taste and health ben­e­fits that Cre­tan EVOOs can offer the world.


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