France won two Gold Awards and one Silver Award at the 2014 New York International Olive Oil Competition (NYIOCC). The three French producers were rewarded for the sublime quality of their best fruity green olive oil — three small- to medium-sized producers who submitted their oils to the huge New York competition for the first time.
From Seillans, an ancient village in Provence, Gilles and Brigitte Stalenque run the family business producing around 3,000 liters of Domaine Stalenq extra virgin olive oil per year on their 5 hectare property. The couple has only recently started entering competitions and in one year has won 5 Gold and 3 Silver Awards in France. They are excited with their first international success, proud of their fruity green which the judges described as robust with aromas of green fruit, green grass, tomato and notes of tomato.
Brigitte Stalenque said:
“We’re not as well known as big olive oil producers but we’re always sold out by July and our customers keep coming back to us. We’re very happy to win this reward especially as we’re only a small domaine in a little Provençal village. Even the mayor of Seillans is proud of what we’ve achieved.”
Producer Frederique Pinatel from Domaine Salvator won a Gold Award with Cuvée Paradis which he described as “robust oil made with one single variety with aromas of green grass, green bananas, pears and fresh almonds.” He said that his oil reflected the terroir of Haute Provence and the family know-how from five generations. Olive Oil from Domaine Salvator has been winning professional olive oil competitions in France since 1977.
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From the Baux de Provence Laurent Bélorgey produces La Lieutenante, an elegant extra virgin olive oil which won a Silver Award. An engineer by profession, Laurent gave up his job as a banker in Luxembourg to manage 48 hectares and 13,000 olive trees, a decision he does not regret.
“La Lieutenante has won many awards in France over the years but winning in New York means so much; it’s great for our work to be recognized and to attract international customers. It’s particularly motivating and stimulating for those who work in the orchard, to all the team. We are very happy and will most certainly be entering the New York Olive Oil Competition next year.”
Among the international panel of judges tasting the collection of over 650 olive oil samples from some 25 countries was Fabienne Roux, director of the French High School of Olive Oil Tasting. She said the competition was carried out with all seriousness and professionalism vital to success, very good organization with even better tasting conditions than last year.
“We had some good surprises as best of class,” Roux said. “Even if we are experienced tasters we were at times captivated by aromas and flavors like children discovering something very new and exciting.”
Roux said she enjoyed sharing her French vision of tasting extra virgin olive oil in a culinary setting with the other judges. What did she particularly enjoy?
“Living for one week together with such interesting and knowledgeable people discussing olive oil from breakfast until late at night.”