Don Gioacchino PDO extra virgin olive oil made in Apulia by Sabino Leone was appointed “Il Magnifico” (The Magnificent) at the international competition bearing the same name, during an award ceremony at the stunning Antinori winery in Tuscany.
The intensely scented extra virgin made with Coratina olives from century-old trees, which also won a Gold Award at the 2015 New York International Olive Oil Competition (NYIOOC), was among the eight finalists that the competition panel analyzed one more time to determine which one deserved the highest recognition.
The other finalists were Le Tre Colonne by Salvatore Stallone (Apulia), Villa Magra Grand Cru by Frantoio Franci, Olio di Dievole by Dievole, Balduccio by the eponymous farm and Fonte di Foiano Grand Cru by Fonte di Foiano (all from Tuscany), Veneranda 19 by Tenuta Zuppini (Abruzzo) and D.O.O. Mate Timbro Istriano by Agrofin (Croatia).
The eight finalists won the gold medal, and an equal number won silver and the bronze medals. Sabino Leone received a Tuscan terra-cotta jar symbolizing the ancient local tradition of producing and preserving extra virgin olive oil.
The jury also awarded two special prizes in partnership with the competition’s two main sponsors. The first of these prizes went to the Dievole farm: After dedicating a long time to winemaking, in the last two years they invested a lot of money and commitment to produce excellent extra virgin olive oil. Those efforts deserved the prize appointed by the local bank Chianti Banca as the best emerging farm.
The Casaliva single variety extra virgin made by Comincioli near the Garda lake won the other special prize, appointed by the olive oil plant producer TEM as the best depitted extra virgin olive oil — a category that, according to TEM’s owner Giorgio Mori, shows its best potential in difficult years such as this past one.
The two prizes were also meant as a homage to the memory of two major figures of Tuscan and Italian olive oil who died in 2011: Marco Mugelli, the renowned olive oil expert and creator of National Association of Professional Olive Oil Tasters, and Massimo Pasquini, who worked at the Florence Chamber of Commerce and who gave a lot of his time and effort to the promotion of high quality olive oils.
The Il Magnifico award and the non-profit association of the same name which organizes it, were created in 2012 to celebrate those men and their work by a group of Tuscan extra virgin olive oil enthusiasts, among which are Matia Barciulli (executive chef at the Antinori restaurants in the Chianti area, including the Michelin Star Osteria di Passignano), the journalist Patrizia Cantini, Giorgio Mori and the photographer and video maker Alessandro Moggi; the latter produced the beautiful videos of the annual events as well as the presentation video.
The main focus of the award is to promote quality extra virgin olive oil and its trade, representing an undisputed and uncompromised reference point. This is why there are no categories based on origin or type of olive oil: the ANAPOO panel led by Franco Pasquini repeatedly blind-tastes all the samples with no indication about cultivar or origin and evaluates them on an organoleptic base, giving each sample a numeric score. The oils getting the highest score are short-listed and then tasted again to establish “Il Magnifico.”
In 2015, there were a lower number of entries due the difficult harvest (around 80 samples compared to last year’s 100) but oils hailed from many Italian regions and from 9 different countries. For this reason, the competition’s rules were modified to accept two entries from each producer instead of one, and the final award was unified for Italian and foreign extra virgin olive oils.
Another innovation of the 2015 edition was the priority given to companies whose main activity is producing extra virgin olive oil, in order to sustain and promote businesses primarily focusing on this product.
Sabino Leone thus becomes the first non-Tuscan producer to receive the award, following the 2013 and 2014 winners Fonte di Foiano and Reto di Montisoni.
Don Gioacchino Dop, Azienda Agricola Sabino Leone – Canosa di Puglia
Le Tre Colonne, Azienda Agricola Salvatore Stallone – Giovinazzo, Italy
Villa Magra Grand Cru, Frantoio Franci – Montenero d’Orcia, Italy
Olio di Dievole, Dievole – Vagliaglia, Italy
Balduccio, Azienda Agricola Balduccio – Lamporecchio, Italy
Fonte di Foiano Grand Cru, Soc. Agr. Fonte di Foiano – Castagneto Carducci, Italy
Veneranda 19, Tenuta Zuppini – Torricella Sicura, Italy
D.O.O. Mate Timbro Istriano, Agrofin – Croazia
Monocultivar Nocellara, Società Torre Rivera – Andria, Italy
Le Sciare, Romano Vincenzo e C. — Bronte, Italy
Olio di Dievole Coratina, Dievole – Vagliagli, Italy
La Foresta, Maria Eleonora Acton di Leporano– Cannavà di Rizziconi, Italy
Monocultivar Cima di Mola, Intini – Alberobello, Italy
Monocultivar Frantoio, Fattoria Ramerino – Bagno a Ripoli, Italy
Casaliva, Azienda Agricola Comincioli – Puegnago del Garda, Italy
Parueoliva Serie Oro, Almazara de la Subbetica – Spain
Olio Salutaris Cesare Buomanici, Azienda Agricola Buonamici – Fiesole, Italy
Classico, Azienda Agricola Bonomelli Ca’ Reinene – Torri del Benaco, Italy
Il Cavallino Special Edition – Azienda Agricola Il Cavallino – Bibbona, Italy
Huile d’Olive de Provence, Bastid du Laval – France
Oli d’Oliva Finques Verge Extra, L’Olivera – Spain
OlioCru, Oliocru Consorzio – Arco, Italy
Andante Intenso, Porteville Olives – South Africa
Rio Largo Premium Blend, Rio Largo Olive Estate – South Africa