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Los Angeles Olive Oil Competition Picks Cobram, Sciabica

Jun. 9, 2011
Lori Zanteson

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Selected from an unprece­dented num­ber of entries, the win­ners of the 2011 Los Angeles International Extra Virgin Olive Oil Competition were announced Tuesday. Australia’s Cobram Estate came away big, tak­ing two Best of Show awards and three Best of Class, while California’s Sciabica’s olive oil earned two of its own Best of Show and Best of Class awards. Best of Show awards also went to Riebli Point Ranch’s Quattro olive oil, and Oro Bailen from Spain.

The com­pe­ti­tion received 599 extra vir­gin olive oils from 374 pro­duc­ers rep­re­sent­ing 23 coun­tries, an increase from last year’s 514 oils from 20 coun­tries. The very first com­pe­ti­tion, in 2000, had a mere 27 domes­tic-only entries and 8 judges. We have the pres­tige,” said event orga­nizer Mary Ellen Cole, because it’s one of the few com­pe­ti­tions in the U.S. that has such an inter­na­tional pres­ence.”

Oils were judged blindly by 22 judges, both domes­tic and inter­na­tional. A 100-point scor­ing sys­tem was used to rate oils by aroma, taste, and har­mony in the cat­e­gories of domes­tic and inter­na­tional, divided by region and inten­sity. Scores of 94 and higher were awarded Best of Class and were then judged once more at the end of the com­pe­ti­tion for the Best of Show win­ners.

There was a sur­pris­ing tie for Best of Show — Best Flavored olive oil between Sciabica’s Basil and Jalapeno oils. That’s amaz­ing because the judg­ing was totally blind,” said Jonathan Sciabica. I don’t know that it’s ever hap­pened before from the same man­u­fac­turer.” Sciabica is happy to accept them both, a clear recog­ni­tion of two excep­tional olive oils. Sciabica’s olive oil hasn’t entered the L.A. com­pe­ti­tion in a cou­ple years but every year we’ve entered we’ve taken Best of Show for some­thing,” said Sciabica.

In 2008 it was for the Jalapeno, which makes it a sec­ond-time win­ner this year. Nick Sciabica & Sons, fam­ily run and best known as Sciabica’s Olive Oil, has pro­duced olive oil in California for 75 years. We’re try­ing to carry on what he [Nick, his great grand­fa­ther] started,” said Sciabica, Winnings like this make us feel like we’re accom­plish­ing our goal.”

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Best of Class and gold medal win­ning oils will be dis­played at the L.A. County Fair’s Wine & Spirits Marketplace from September 3 until October 2. Along with daily tast­ings, win­ning olive oils will be avail­able for pur­chase until they sell out, which they most always do. Olive oil is on a notice­able upswing in L.A.with shops and tast­ing rooms pop­ping up fre­quently, but the County Fair remains a go-to source for many Angelenos. According to Cole, People come to the fair just to buy olive oil.” Fairgoers have told her there’s no place like this event to find this inter­na­tional selec­tion.

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