Part of our continuing special coverage of the 2021 NYIOOC World Olive Oil Competition.
South African extra virgin olive oil producers won a total of nine awards at the 2021 NYIOOC World Olive Oil Competition, tying the previous total set in 2017.
Overall, five South African producers combined to earn four Gold and five Silver Awards from 10 entries at the world’s most prestigious olive oil quality contest.
As we are not traditionally known for producing olive oil out here on the southern tip of Africa, this award gives us exposure to the world of olive oil.
Their impressive performances are a welcome moment for South African producers after their bumper harvest last year, which came despite water shortages and having to navigate their way through unfamiliar Covid-19 restrictions.
“These accolades are testament to the quality of South African extra virgin olive oil and a well-deserved recognition of the efforts of those involved in making the success happen,” Vittoria Jooste, manager of the South African Olive Industry Association (SA Olive), told Olive Oil Times.See Also: The Best Olive Oils from South Africa
“We are extremely proud of our producers who fly the South African extra virgin olive oil flag on the global scene and hope that more producers will be able to participate in future editions,” she added.
Nick Wilkinson, who co-owns Rio Largo with his wife, Brenda, told Olive Oil Times they were “delighted to win a Gold Award at the NYIOOC.”
“As we are not traditionally known for producing olive oil out here on the southern tip of Africa, this award gives us exposure to the world of olive oil,” Wilkinson said.
He added that this award proves South African producers can compete with the best extra virgin olive oils made anywhere else in the world.
“We take great pride in our quality profile with relatively new groves and modern processing technology, and this truly international competition is our barometer to judge ourselves against the world’s best,” Wilkinson said.
He attributed his ongoing success – Rio Largo’s robust blend has now won four awards at the NYIOOC – to the estate’s Mediterranean climate and terroir.
Additionally, Wilkinson said the notorious Cape Doctor, a strong and continuous south-easterly wind endemic to the country’s Western Cape coastal region, ensured they had “very little disease and insect pressure.”
“With attention to detail, we can manipulate the olives for processing at the right moisture content, and with hand harvesting, we ensure olives are picked early, foregoing oil yield but maximizing quality with a high polyphenol count,” he said.
“Olives are processed within 12 hours of harvest, and I run the processing plant myself where absolute hygiene is non-negotiable,” Wilkinson added. “Practice also makes perfect.”
Mardouw Olive Estate, located in the Breede River Valley in the Western Cape province, was another producer to triumph at the NYIOOC, receiving a Silver Award for its Oil of the Olive brand.
Philip King, the estate’s general manager, told Olive Oil Times they were “delighted to win another award at a prestigious event such as NYIOOC” after entering “a single-cultivar Favolosa, as we were still in an early harvest.”
“By this achievement, we have also proved the consistency of our extra virgin olive oils, winning three out of three years we have entered,” he added.
Outside of the Western Cape, in the Klein Karoo region, De Rustica Olive was awarded a Silver for its medium Coratina.
“It’s been a privilege to be part of the NYIOOC for the last few years,” De Rustica’s marketing manager, Precilla Steenkamp, told Olive Oil Times. “Receiving an award on this platform is once again a reminder of the high quality we adhere to.”
Steenkamp ascribed De Rustica’s victory to “teamwork, commitment and passion, from maintaining the orchards to picking, pressing, storing and bottling.”
“We are very pleased and proud of the excellent work done by the whole team at Porterville Olives and our olive estate in South Africa,” owner Willie Duminy told Olive Oil Times. “The NYIOOC is very important to us, and we are very pleased to have achieved two Gold and one Silver Award at this most prestigious competition.”
For the producers behind Porterville Olives, this year’s success came as the result of a bountiful harvest.
“We had a good crop, with excellent quality fruit,” Duminy said. “Fortunately, we had favorable weather, and the harvest activities were not disrupted by any Covid-19 issues.”
Producers across South Africa will be hoping for similar conditions to prevail as they finish the 2021 harvest in the coming weeks.