Part of our continuing special coverage of the 2021 NYIOOC World Olive Oil Competition.
With the highest-ever number of successes at the NYIOOC World Olive Oil Competition – 99 awards in total – Greek producers and exporters set new standards for the country’s olive oil sector.
While Cretan producers demonstrated their competitiveness, their counterparts on the Peloponnese peninsula also enjoyed numerous wins in the world’s most prestigious olive oil quality competition.
Being recognized in this competition is not only the biggest compliment for us, but it is the one competition that does the talking for small producers like ourselves.
The Peloponnese, the southern-most part of continental Greece, is virtually a continuous olive grove that hosts more than 30 million olive trees and produces top-quality olive oil.
“The Peloponnese and many other territories of Greece, from Crete to Corfu, have just the right climate for olive tree cultivation with mild to cold, but not freezing winters, and long, warm summers,” agronomist Yiorgos Kostelenos, who has been recording the indigenous olive varieties of Greece for more than 40 years, told Olive Oil Times.See Also: The Best Olive Oils from Greece
“We should also consider that olive tree growing goes back almost 6,000 years in Greece,” Kostelenos continued. “Consequently, the olive trees have genetically evolved here more than anywhere else, and the olive fruits they give have evolved accordingly.”
“Add that the Greek producers have made a remarkable turn toward modern techniques and methods in the production of olive oil during the recent years, it is no wonder that the olive oil is of excellent quality,” he added.
The ninth edition of the NYIOOC once again allowed Peloponnesian producers to exhibit their award-winning extra virgin olive oils.
“This competition means everything to us, and being recognized for the eighth consecutive year gives us the greatest sense of accomplishment,” Diamantis Pierrakos, one of the owners of the Laconiko Olive Oil Company, told Olive Oil Times. “Our gratitude is overwhelming.”
“Being recognized in this competition is not only the biggest compliment for us, but it is the one competition that does the talking for small producers like ourselves,” he added. “My brother, Dino, and I feel so ecstatic for our awards right now; it might take a couple of weeks before the overwhelming excitement settles.”
The company expanded its collection of NYIOOC accolades by earning two Gold and one Silver Award at this year’s competition.
Laconiko won the Gold Awards for Its namesake Koroneiki monovarietal, and the Olio Nuovo Reserve, made from Koroneiki olives. In addition, Laconiko Kambos, another monovarietal Koroneiki, received a Silver Award in New York this year.
Pierrakos said that the 2020 harvest was quite challenging due to the travel restrictions of the Covid-19 pandemic. However, he is optimistic about the coming season.
“The next harvest looks promising, but it is definitely too early to tell, he said. “Every year, we always hope for the best, but we know that we will have obstacles to overcome.”
“The only sure thing about the next season is that we will give 100 percent to produce the absolute best extra virgin olive oil that we can,” Pierrakos added. “As long as we do this, we will always keep our head high regardless of the outcome.”
Mediterre Eurofood was another repeat Peloponnesian winner to earn multiple awards at 2021 NYIOOC.
Previously operating under the name of Papadopoulos Olive Oil, the company once again excelled in the competition, earning four Gold and two Silver Awards from all six of its entries.
“All our extra virgin olive oils were successful at NYIOOC,” Konstantinos Papadopoulos, the CEO of the Olympia-based company, told Olive Oil Times. “It is worth saying that we were the most distinguished Greek producer this year, having achieved six out of six olive oils to be awarded.”
“The harvesting season went well, and thanks to the hard work of our team of agriculturists, we once again managed to produce olive oil of impeccable quality,” he added.
The producer earned two Gold Awards for the Mediterre Alea brand, a monovarietal organic Koroneiki, and the Mythocia Olympia PGI medium blend. Omphacium and Omphacium organic, both made from the Olympia variety, also received Gold Awards.
Mediterre Eurofood earned two Silver Awards for its Mediterre Lena brand, a blend of Koroneiki and Manaki olives, and Mediterre Olymp Olympia PGI, made from organic Koroneiki and Kolireiki olives.
Apart from well-established Greek producers at the NYIOOC, first and second-time competitors from the Peloponnese also measured up to the requirements.
Argolio, from the region of Argolida in the eastern part of the Peloponnese, chose to compete at the NYIOOC for the first time and succeeded, earning a Gold Award for its namesake medium blend of Koroneiki and Manaki olives.
“It is the first time that we participate in a competition, and we feel very happy that we won the Gold Award in the most important and timeless competition of all,” Michalis Kontovrakis, the company’s CEO, told Olive Oil Times.
Kontovrakis also said that they were confident of a good result based on their olive oils’ chemical and organoleptic analysis. The producers are now looking to market Argolio around the world.
“We dare to say that it should be in every house, restaurant and delicatessen,” he said proudly.
The company picked up a Gold Award for its Kalamata Iliada PDO and another for its Iliada organic PDO. Agro.VI.M earned the Silver Award for the Iliada organic Emerald Selection.
“Agro.VI.M. has been awarded at NYIOOC for two consecutive years,” Eugenia Gyftea, the company’s CEO, told Olive Oil Times. “We remain true to our vision to offer quality products of high nutritional value to our customers.”
“Our Iliada extra virgin has been fulfilling our mission for years,” she added. “Our awards in New York are the culmination of our hard work, and they confirm the quality of the products we offer to the United States and around the world.”
Elsewhere in the Peloponnese, in Arcadia, at the center of the peninsula, G‑Team produced its organic Agourelion brand from early-harvested, hand-picked olives of the Olympia variety, which were grown at high altitude.
The company, a new contender in the competition, took home one Gold Award for its Hypereleon Ultra Gold and two Silver Awards for the Hypereleon Gold and another organic Agourelion, the Hypereleon Nutri-Arcadian Mountains blend, made from Olympia and Athinolia olives.
“It is a continuous, demanding and sophisticated production process, which requires great patience, love and devotion,” the company told Olive Oil Times. “Therefore, the awards and the recognition at the NYIOOC in our first participation filled us with joy and optimism and gave us the courage to continue our efforts for improving our products.”
G‑Team uses only organic farming methods, including non-chemical pesticides, which promote gentle, natural cultivation of the trees in a biodiverse and balanced ecosystem, they said.
On the other hand, the company utilizes modern scientific monitoring and quality controls in its production process.
“By strictly following special certified procedures during all stages of production, we ensure the top quality of every drop of our product from our groves to your front door,” they said.
“We truly believe in the value of Greek agricultural products, especially regarding olive oil and olive products,” they added. “Based on the tradition and heritage our ancestors bestowed us with, we move forward with respect and love for the natural environment, the ecosystem and our blessed land.”