Part of our continuing special coverage of the 2021 NYIOOC World Olive Oil Competition.
Greek producers and exporters raised the bar again in the NYIOOC World Olive Oil Competition, winning an impressive 99 awards in the ninth edition of the competition, a record high.
The tally of 45 Gold and 54 Silver Awards far outperforms the previous record of 70 awards set in 2020, in the second year in a row where the evaluation of samples was done remotely with the results announced online due to restrictions of the Covid-19 pandemic.
While the volume of olive oil produced this season in Greece almost matched the 275,000 tons of the previous 2019/20 crop year, according to data released by the European Commission, the high quality of the oils produced in several areas of the country and the ample time to cultivate enabled Greek producers to leave their mark at NYIOOC.
On Crete , the island that usually accounts for one-third of the country’s total olive oil production, local producers enjoyed a great season in terms of quality. The vast majority of the produced olive oil classified as extra virgin.See Also: The Best Olive Oils from Greece
“This season on Crete, the producers and the local departments of agriculture were constantly on guard to prevent the fruit fly from taking a heavy toll on the yield of olive oil, as has happened in the previous harvesting season,” the regional department of agriculture in Chania said in a statement to Olive Oil Times.
“We used specialized pesticides and monitored the crop-dusting operations carefully,” they added. “In the region of Chania, the flowering of the olive trees was average. However, we had an impressive yield of olive oil with the whole region producing more than 23,000 tons of which 95 percent is extra virgin olive oil.”
“The quality of the olive oil of Crete and Chania has been reputed in the olive oil world for many years,” the department continued. “The growers, producers and bottlers continuously strive to improve it even more. Their awards [at the NYIOOC] are proof that their efforts are paying off, and they also contribute to achieving recognition among consumers and in the international olive oil community.”
The rewarding season described by the agriculturists of the department is reflected in the words of the jubilant Cretan producers who combined to earn 16 awards in the competition.
“It was one of the best harvesting seasons for the island,” Eytychios Androulakis of Pamako, a company based in Chania, told Olive Oil Times. “If it repeats itself in the coming years, Crete could become the Tuscany of Greece.”
Pamako continued its winning streak at the NYIOOC, earning a Gold Award for the fourth consecutive year its namesake, an organic delicate Tsounati organic, and a Silver Award for the Pamako Mountain, an organic blend from Koroneiki and Tsounati.
“We are extremely happy to receive a Gold Award for the fourth consecutive year for our organic monovarietal extra virgin,” Androulakis said.
“We believe we have put the Tsounati variety on the map of gourmet cultivars for good,” he added. “We own more than 28 inventions of machinery equipment, and we always experiment in all the stages of the production process to make our organic, high-phenolic olive oil.”
“To maximize traceability, we only use olives harvested from our own 14,000 olive trees, which are then processed in our private mill and bottled in our private packaging facilities,” Androulakis continued. “This way, consumers know what they buy.”
Androulakis also shared his view for the coming season, noting that it is expected to be a little more challenging since the warm weather has already caused some damage to the flowering of the olive trees.
“Nonetheless, I wish that the high temperatures will persist from now on to eliminate the first generation of the fruit fly naturally,” he concluded.
Away from Pamako, many other producers from the Chania region on Crete also excelled at NYIOOC this year.
Terra Creta was among the stand-out producers in the competition, receiving three Gold Awards for its Terra Creta, Terra Creta organic and Terra Creta Grand Cru extra virgin olive oils, all of which are made from the Koroneiki variety.
To Emmanouil Karpadakis, the marketing and area exports manager of the company, the satisfaction and joy for the performance of Terra Creta at NYIOOC were immense.
“It was not our first time at NYIOOC, however this edition of the competition was really different for Terra Creta,” Karpadakis told us. “After winning first prize in Mario Solinas 2021, it is true that we had high hopes. So, we are more than satisfied to receive three Gold Awards at NYIOOC 2021, such a prestigious competition of the olive oil world.”
“Winning such a ‘difficult award’ is the best proof that we are moving in the correct direction as a producer and exporter of superior quality extra virgin olive oil,” he added. “The Koroneiki variety, which is the dominant variety in Greece, has a unique but difficult to reveal quality profile, and that makes us even happier with the results.”
“We wish more and more consumers will be able to appreciate and enjoy the ‘hidden character of Koroneiki’ as we use to say,” Karpadakis concluded.
“It is with great joy that we welcome this prestigious award as it comes as a ratification of our continuous efforts to maintain a top-tier quality in our products while remaining a family-run business,” Eleftheria Mamidakis told Olive Oil Times.
“We are extremely proud that our monovarietal Anoskeli extra virgin has been awarded for the third time in a row in the 2021 NYIOOC among a series of well-respected contenders in its category, receiving a Gold Award,” she added.
Anoskeli had received two Silver Awards in the 2019 and 2020 NYIOOC, finally earning a Gold Award in this year’s edition of the annual contest.
Mamidakis also projected that next year’s production of olive oil may be lower in Crete in terms of quantity compared with the current season.
“It is expected that next year’s production may fall,” she said. “We have also seen unusually high temperatures for this time of year which may also affect production volumes. As always, we will strive to produce exceptional and organic extra virgin olive oil, as quality and consistency remain at the top of our priorities.”
Toronto-based Acropolis Organics also received a Gold Award for its homonymous organic monovarietal from its Koroneiki groves in Kolymvari.
“This is the second time we have participated in the competition and we are honored that our hard work and our commitment to producing the best olive oil is recognized,” Panagiotis Tsiriotakis told Olive Oil Times.
“The perfect weather on the island of Crete helped maximize the quality of the harvest this year,” he added. “All stages of production are monitored very carefully by our family members. This is a team effort. Using the best from nature, we get perfect results.”
On the eastern part of the island, producers also enjoyed a great finale of the harvesting season with big wins at the World Olive Oil Competition.
Maria Sgourou from Skoutari, a company based near Lasithi, was delighted to discuss their success in their first-ever participation in the competition.
“We are very proud that our organic extra virgin olive oil found its place among the best olive oils of the world after participating in such a demanding and highly-respected competition,” Sgourou told Olive Oil Times.
“In the 17th-century, Cretan romance Erotokritos, Skoutari is the shield that protects the infatuated youth when he fights for his beloved Aretousa,” she said. “Having adopted the philosophy of Hippocrates that our food is our medicine, we grow our olive trees with respect to nature and biodiversity to produce pure olive oil of high quality. So, in 2000 we created Skoutari olive oil, a shield to our health.”
Skoutari picked up a Gold Award for its medium extra virgin monovarietal from Koroneiki, which bears a health claim for its high load of polyphenols.
Sgourou also acknowledged the fact that great distinctions bring great responsibility, finally noting that they have to continue the hard work to fulfill the expectations.
“The greater the joy for the award, the greater the sense of responsibility towards all those who trust our products,” she said. “We want to be able to always offer the best olive oil to our customers, the same one we use to raise our children.”