`Eighth 'Olio Capitale' Draws to Close - Olive Oil Times

Eighth 'Olio Capitale' Draws to Close

Mar. 25, 2014
Luciana Squadrilli

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After four days packed with vis­i­tors, Trieste’s Stazione Marittima exhi­bi­tion cen­ter went quiet again. The 8th edi­tion of Olio Capitale had come to an end. With a rich pro­gram of events and tast­ings and 306 exhibitors, Olio Capitale is Italy’s only expo ded­i­cated to the pro­mo­tion of extra vir­gin olive oil, and it drew to Trieste for­eign buy­ers as well as jour­nal­ists, tasters, restau­rant own­ers and fam­i­lies.

The orga­niz­ers were quite sat­is­fied with this year’s results which fea­tured a record atten­dance. According to their fig­ures, around 10,600 peo­ple vis­ited the fair dur­ing its four days. Many were restau­ra­teurs and hote­liers from neigh­bor­ing Austria, and busi­ness­men com­ing form Japan. But there was a var­ied audi­ence that fol­lowed the tast­ings and the cook­ing demon­stra­tions held dur­ing the fair.

Olio Capitale keeps grow­ing year after year, attain­ing not only the pub­lic’s approval but also that of exhibitors and for­eign buy­ers” said Antonio Paoletti, chair­man of the local Chamber of Commerce. Taking part at Olio Capitale, the pro­duc­ers have the chance to approach the global mar­ket get­ting into direct con­tact with buy­ers hail­ing from all over the world. Furthermore, this year Olio Capitale rep­re­sented another, impor­tant string to the bow of defend­ing the qual­ity Italian extra vir­gin olive oils, after the debate unleashed by the New York Times. Moreover, we should not under­es­ti­mate the pos­i­tive eco­nomic spin-off that the fair gen­er­ates for Trieste thanks to the high num­ber of vis­i­tors.”

According to Enrico Lupi, the national chair­man of the Città dell’Olio Association (which 8 years ago con­tributed to start the exhi­bi­tion and today still pro­vides an essen­tial con­tri­bu­tion to the cul­tural orga­ni­za­tion of the event) the turn­ing point for suc­cess was mov­ing the fair from the orig­i­nal loca­tion in the out­skirts of Trieste to the Stazione Marittima, right in the cen­ter of the city, two years ago.

Enrico Lupi and Antonio Balenzano, for Citta’ dell’Olio

I have kept an eye on this won­der­ful ini­tia­tive from the European Observatory,” said Debora Seracchiani, MEP involved in trans­port and tourism, speak­ing at the clos­ing cer­e­mony — Olio Capitale is cer­tainly in line with the new European guide­lines rec­og­niz­ing nat­ural pro­duce and prod­ucts of excel­lence as a top choice for invest­ment for European tourism.”

The Quattociocchis

The Expo was an excel­lent chance to appre­ci­ate the wide and rich pat­ri­mony of Italian extra vir­gin olive oil, show­cas­ing dif­fer­ent prod­ucts and vari­eties. These range from the Northern regions such as Friuli Venezia Giulia – where Olio Capitale is held, and where the Bianchera cul­ti­var gives very inter­est­ing results despite smaller quan­ti­ties, to the deep South of Italy where the vast major­ity of the Italian olive oil is pro­duced. During the fair, we were able to taste many of them and hear the exhibitors’ impres­sions.

At the wel­com­ing booth of the Frosinone province, an ideal area for olive grow­ing in Lazio region, we met the award-win­ning Amerigo Quattrociocchi. He is a real catch-all with his excel­lent prod­ucts such as the intensely tomato-per­fumed Olivastro made with Itrana olives, and the fiercely bit­ter and pun­gent Moraiolo, with which he achieved the wor­thy result of two Gold Medals at last year’s NYIOOC. Beside him, there were other local pro­duc­ers and prod­ucts such as the lesser known vari­ety Marina, that only grows in a small area of the Comino val­ley. This old vari­ety of moun­tain olives” — olive groves located over 700 meters alti­tude — has been redis­cov­ered by a small bunch of local pro­duc­ers and grow­ers lead by the res­olute and friendly Valentina Franco. Judging by the oil we were able to taste from her, it seems to be a vari­ety to bet on.

The own­ers of award-win­ning OlioCru”

Nicola Peroni, owner of Oliocru near the Garda lake, thought his atten­dance at the fair for the first time this year was quite sat­is­fy­ing. This is a very inter­est­ing and fruit­ful event” He said. I was able to meet many inter­na­tional buy­ers, and also many restau­rant own­ers who are the ideal mar­ket for our oils”. His pro­duc­tion includes dif­fer­ent extra vir­gin oils, both from depit­ted and whole olives, and from dif­fer­ent vari­eties grow­ing both in Northern and Southern Italy such as Frantoio, Casaliva, Leccino, Pendolino, Coratina, Peranzana and Cassanese. He proudly showed his awards and recog­ni­tions, includ­ing the NYIOOC Gold Medal tro­phy. Competition and guides are essen­tial to us. For Italian pro­duc­ers, inter­na­tional recog­ni­tions are even more impor­tant as they are con­sid­ered more reli­able by the local pub­lic.”

Just beside his stand, Marina Colonna from Molise (Central Italy) gave us a dif­fer­ent state­ment: I have been able to sell all my prod­ucts to the gen­eral pub­lic made of fam­i­lies and pri­vate vis­i­tors. Had I brought more stuff I’d still have sold out. But I’m here mostly for the for­eign buy­ers, as the Italian mar­ket is not keen to pay enough for high qual­ity oils: we have to sell it abroad.” Lady Colonna, heiress of an ancient and noble Roman fam­ily, owns a won­der­ful estate near San Martino in Pensilis where she grows many dif­fer­ent vari­eties from all around Italy and the neigh­bor­ing coun­tries, form­ing an impres­sive col­lec­tion of the olive’s bio­di­ver­sity.

Gaetano Avallone

At Apulian Podere Montedoro stand, we met an old acquain­tance: Gaetano Avallone, panel leader, expert taster and pro­duc­tion con­sul­tant. I work with dif­fer­ent com­pa­nies” he told us But when I met Sabino Leone, Don Gioacchino’s owner, I imme­di­ately felt we share the same vision. We want to pro­mote and give the right value to the most inter­est­ing vari­eties grow­ing in the area near Bari, both the most and the lesser known. Our aim is to make excel­lent extra vir­gin olive oil from the Coratina olives, which have been used way too long purely to give a stronger char­ac­ter to other, milder vari­eties. We also intend to pro­duce excel­lent extra vir­gin from other lesser vari­eties such as Nociara or Peranzana, grow­ing in the wide fam­ily estate. And we also want to prove that qual­ity and quan­tity can go along if well man­aged, strictly focus­ing on the sense of pride, noble­ness and belong­ing that we deeply feel.” Judging on our tastes the tar­get has been won­der­fully achieved. The sev­eral awards col­lected in just two year since Avallone’s con­sul­tancy started cer­tainly tes­ti­mony that achieve­ment.

Frantoio Librandi, a fam­ily-run farm and mill from Calabria, let us taste their fan­tas­tic extra vir­gin by Nocellara Iblea (a new­comer beside their oth­ers monocul­ti­var extra vir­gin olive oils obtained by Nocellara del Belice, Frantoio and Carolea) with the deli­cious orange mar­malade they made using the fruit that grows in the fam­ily estate: it’s worth a try.

Sicily show­cased a num­ber of excel­lent extra vir­gin oils hail­ing from the dif­fer­ent sides of the island. The fer­tile soil sur­round­ing the Etna vol­cano gives birth to the local vari­ety Nocellara Etnea, that we could taste both in the ele­gant and intense extra vir­gin Le Sciare (where it blends also with Tonda Iblea and Biancolilla olives) made by Frantoio Romano in Bronte, and in the PDO Monte Etna pro­duced by Pasquale Consoli in Adrano. At his stand, the lat­ter not only clev­erly dis­played all the awards and recog­ni­tions he has achieved, but also some very use­ful pro­mo­tional mate­ri­als focused on edu­ca­tion and pop­u­lar­iza­tion of the true” and false” beliefs about extra vir­gin. It is very impor­tant to teach peo­ple how to rec­og­nize and appre­ci­ate a good oil, explain­ing that a pun­gent oil is good, that the trans­par­ent glass bot­tle is not a good way to pre­serve it and so on” he said. We could­n’t agree more.

Mandranova’s Giuseppe di Vincenzo

At the oppo­site cor­ner of Sicily, near Agrigento, the Mandranova estate is a wel­com­ing and peace­ful resort where, com­bin­ing tra­di­tional knowl­edge with mod­ern meth­ods, Giuseppe di Vincenzo pro­duces awe­some extra vir­gin olive oils from the local vari­eties Biancolilla, Cerasuola, Giarraffa and Nocellara (which achieved a gold at 2013 NYIOOC). I came here at Olio Capitale for the first time this year, because it is the only fair entirely ded­i­cated to extra vir­gin,” he said. Of course you should wait at least two or three years before judg­ing whether it works or not, but I’m quite sat­is­fied with this edi­tion. I could meet many peo­ple, that is always good, even if for us the best way to pro­mote and sell our oils is to wel­come peo­ple in our farm and show them were they are born.”

On the last day of the event, the win­ners of the Olio Capitale com­pe­ti­tion were announced. The oils (20 per­cent of which were from abroad, in par­tic­u­lar from Spain, Portugal, Greece and Israel, while the remain­ing sam­ples came from Italy) were judged in pre-selec­tion phase by a pro­fes­sional panel, and then dur­ing the expo by three other pan­els — pro­fes­sional tasters, chefs and restau­ra­teurs — and a pop­u­lar jury” made by ordi­nary vis­i­tors. Tuscany took this year’s crown with a total of 6 oils out of the 15 final­ists, but it was Apulia that actu­ally went away with most of the win­nings, tak­ing 4 of the 7 prizes assigned.

For the com­plete results visit the Olio Capitale web­site.

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