Greek Producers Achieve Record Wins at NYIOOC World Olive Oil Competition

Greek brands had their best showing ever, earning an all-time record of 69 of the world's most coveted olive oil quality awards.

Diamantis Pierrakos, Laconiko
May 18, 2020 11:37 AM EDT
By Costas Vasilopoulos
Diamantis Pierrakos, Laconiko

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Part of our con­tin­u­ing cov­er­age of the 2020 NYIOOC World Olive Oil Competition.

In the era of the coro­n­avirus and extra­or­di­nary mea­sures, the plan devised by the orga­niz­ers of the world’s pre­mier olive oil qual­ity con­test to over­come obsta­cles stem­ming from travel and trans­port restric­tions finally led to the unveil­ing of the win­ners of 2020 NYIOOC World Olive Oil Competition Friday.

The judg­ing panel of olive oil experts worked remotely to test and eval­u­ate 881 olive oil sam­ples from 26 coun­tries around the world and the offi­cial results have so far been seen by more than a half-mil­lion food indus­try pro­fes­sion­als, inter­na­tional press pro­duc­ers and enthu­si­asts, the NYIOOC reported.

Greek pro­duc­ers and exporters won 69 awards — 30 Gold and 39 Silver — far out­per­form­ing last year’s tally of 35 awards in total, and the best over­all per­for­mance for the coun­try in the con­test’s eight years.

See Also: The Best Olive Oils from Greece

A pro­ducer from Crete, Pamako, expanded its col­lec­tion of prizes from the NYIOOC com­pe­ti­tion win­ning two Gold Awards for its name­sake organic Tsounati mono­va­ri­etal and the Pamako Mountain Organic Blend made from Tsounati and Koroneiki.

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Eftychios Androulakis said that Pamako was vic­to­ri­ous despite dif­fi­cult times for the Cretan olive oil sec­tor.

We are very glad to win at the NYIOOC for a third con­sec­u­tive year, and even more since now we won two Gold Awards for our olive oils after the worst har­vest sea­son in Crete in the last decade,” Androulakis told Olive Oil Times.

The next sea­son seems promis­ing, but we can­not be cer­tain of any­thing until the olive trees flow­er­ing process is com­pleted. We are organic pro­duc­ers and every year we face new sur­prises. On the other hand, we have to be pre­pared and adapt to nature’s demands and not expect nature to adapt to us.”

Androulakis also explained that the key to a suc­cess­ful olive oil yield is to con­tin­u­ously exper­i­ment and seek new processes and devel­op­ments in the whole pro­duc­tion chain.

The NYIOOC prizes is our reward for seven years of con­stant exper­i­men­ta­tion from the field to the mill and finally to pack­ag­ing our oil. We pre­pare some changes for the next sea­son and we work with pas­sion and love for the olive oil. There are no mag­i­cal recipes after all,” he said.

The Greek com­pany Neolea took a Gold Award for its mono­va­ri­etal at the world’s pre­mier olive oil qual­ity con­test. The com­pany pro­duces extra vir­gin olive oil in Kalamata from Koroneiki olives.

Neolea

The organolep­tic pro­file of 2019 early har­vest was a bit unbal­anced. Whereas you would expect more bit­ters in an early har­vest, as opposed to fruiti­ness, this year’s early har­vest had an excess of bit­ter­ness. This resulted in a longer-than-usual har­vest period,” Manten said.

Neolea won a Gold Award for its del­i­cate Koroneiki. The oil took Silver in 2017.

At Neolea we har­vest fine food to our own rhythm and it’s fan­tas­tic to see more and more peo­ple like our beat, includ­ing the som­me­liers. It is a great acknowl­edg­ment of the efforts the Neolea team took together with the farm­ers and the olive press in Manessi,” Manten said.

Evgenia Andriopoulos from Makaria Terra, a com­pany based in the boun­ti­ful Messinia region of the Peloponnese, was happy to dis­cuss the com­pa­ny’s achieve­ment at the NYIOOC World Olive Oil Competition.

After years of hard work, devo­tion, atten­tion to detail and respect for the olive tree, we have man­aged to be among the best olive oils of the world,” Andriopoulos told us.

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Each year we pro­duce an exquis­ite olive oil with com­pound fla­vors that trans­fer to the whole world the har­mony and peace of the land of Makaria Terra that we cul­ti­vate with hard toil.”

Andriopoulos said the com­ing years are not expected to be eas­ier and less chal­leng­ing than those of the past: Determination and ded­i­ca­tion are required to invest in even bet­ter prod­ucts and use the proper net­works to chan­nel qual­ity Greek olive oil to global mar­kets.”

We will con­tinue to pro­duce and bot­tle olive oil com­ing exclu­sively from our pri­vate olive groves, which is essen­tial in order to keep our high stan­dards of qual­ity,” she added. Our guide at Makaria Terra is the noble look and great effort of our ances­tors who planted and grew the olive trees and were car­ry­ing water with their hands for hun­dreds of yards. We con­tinue the jour­ney with respect, con­sis­tency and deter­mi­na­tion.”

Makaria Terra received a Gold Award for its extra vir­gin olive oil made from the Koroneiki vari­ety and is a third-time NYIOOC Gold Award win­ner.

Laconiko, an olive oil pro­ducer from Lakonia has man­aged to build a win­ning tra­di­tion at the NYIOOC, pick­ing up awards for seven years in a row. This time, Laconiko won a Gold Award for its medium-inten­sity Koroneiki and a Silver Award for the Olio Nuovo Reserve label.

Diamantis Pierrakos was grate­ful for the dis­tinc­tion.

My brother Dino and I are thrilled to be rec­og­nized for the 7th con­sec­u­tive year at this com­pe­ti­tion,” he told us. Being rec­og­nized gives us a sense of accom­plish­ment for the emo­tional and phys­i­cal exhaus­tion put into mak­ing our olive oil. Our emo­tions are run­ning very high right now.”

Pierrakos was also quick to acknowl­edge the con­tri­bu­tion of the cus­tomers of Laconiko in the com­pa­ny’s suc­cess.

All the awards we have ever received are because of [our cus­tomers],” he said. Without their love and appre­ci­a­tion all these years we have never had the moti­va­tion to offer the best of our­selves, and for those rea­sons alone we can­not risk to dis­ap­point them. We thank you for believ­ing in us.”

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Little Gypsy Farms is another pro­ducer from Greece to secure a Gold Award for its extra vir­gin olive oil from the Koroneiki vari­ety. The olives from their pri­vately-owned groves in south­ern Peloponnese are hand­picked and care­fully processed at their mill to give an extra vir­gin with an after­taste of radish and flow­ers.

We are so thank­ful as an inde­pen­dent craft pro­ducer to have our EVOO rec­og­nized,” said the owner George Gyftakis. Breaking through all the estab­lished indus­trial’ olive oil brands can be dif­fi­cult so the work you do at the NYIOOC host­ing this event with unbi­ased EVOO som­me­liers is truly val­ued by pro­duc­ers like us.”

Our goal is to bring a trusted bot­tle of our fam­ily-owned and estate-grown EVOO in a process typ­i­cally seen only from winer­ies. We con­trol the grow­ing, har­vest, press­ing and bot­tling — achiev­ing a craft qual­ity you can taste,” he added.

Our grow­ing phi­los­o­phy has always been to let nature take its course with old-growth heir­loom trees and by empha­siz­ing qual­ity over quan­tity. We do not use pes­ti­cides, fer­til­iz­ers or arti­fi­cial irri­ga­tion. The results are a nutri­tion­ally con­cen­trated and more fla­vor­ful EVOO.”

Gyftakis acknowl­edged the pre­vail­ing micro­cli­mate of their area and he praised the work of the past gen­er­a­tions that enabled his extra vir­gin olive oil to become a real­ity.

Our fam­ily, whose sur­name trans­lates to Little Gypsy,’ has always been a resource­ful tribe. Our ances­tors took to the moun­tains, ful­fill­ing their name­sake with­out a home, even­tu­ally set­tling on the fer­tile ground along­side the Mediterranean Sea,” he said.

This sea­side land between moun­tains in the south­ern Peloponnese of Greece pro­vided an advan­ta­geous micro­cli­mate, always a few degrees warmer in the win­ter with more rain­fall cour­tesy of the nearby peaks. Here, we began to grow.”

A new entry and a first-time win­ner of the NYIOOC World Olive Oil Competition is Alexandros Olive Oil com­pany from Alexandroupolis in north­ern Greece.

Alexandros won a Gold Award for the Alexandros Special Edition extra vir­gin from early-har­vested olives and a Silver Award for the Alexandros Black Edition, both made from the Makri vari­ety.

We weren’t much into com­pe­ti­tions until recently,” the owner Alexandros Voukoureslis told Olive Oil Times. But the prizes at the NYIOOC are the acknowl­edg­ment of our deter­mi­na­tion to make olive oil of top qual­ity, and they sig­nal this qual­ity to our cus­tomers. We have cre­ated a new olive oil mill of high stan­dards and our hard work and efforts have paid off.”


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