One hundred extra virgin olive oils took part in the final stage of the 26th Ercole Olivario, the award for the Italian regional excellence organized by the Italian Union of Chambers of Commerce, Industry, Handicraft and Agriculture (Unioncamere), in collaboration with the Chamber of Commerce of Perugia with the support of the National Chamber System.
237 labels came from 17 regions, seven of which were awarded: Sardinia led with 5 awards, followed by Lazio and Puglia with 3 recognitions each, and Umbria, Tuscany, Trentino and Abruzzo, each with one award.
The jury, composed by tasters representing the olive oil regions and conducted by the panel leader Angela Canale, selected twelve winners, in accordance with two categories, PDO/PGI and extra virgin, subdivided into three classes, light, medium and intense, to which were added some special prizes.
On April 7, at the auditorium of the University for Foreigners of Perugia, the award ceremony was moderated by the journalist Maurizio Pescari in the presence of the rector Giovanni Paciullo, the president of the Chamber of Commerce of Perugia and president of the National Committee Ercole Olivario, Giorgio Mencaroni, and the professor of food science and technology at the University of Perugia, Maurizio Servili, who gave a Lectio Magistralis on the importance of biodiversity in the quality of Italian olive oils and temperatures in the extraction process.
“We launched this important competition twenty-six years ago with the objective to map the excellence of the many beautiful territories of the peninsula,” said the president of the competition committee, Giorgio Mencaroni. “We recognize the value of the operators in the sector, who carry out a constant qualitative improvement, and of the professional tasters, who are committed to promoting quality productions.”
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“We are pleased with these recognitions especially because our company was recently founded,” said Graziano Pau, the president of the olive growers’ cooperative of Oliena, in the province of Nuoro, in Sardinia. “This is our first production, as we took the reins of a company created at the beginning of last century, and chose to focus on quality,” he remarked after receiving an award for the best medium fruity extra virgin olive oil and a special prize for new companies. “It was an exceptional season and we are proud of this recognition of the variety Nera di Oliena, which is an expression of our territory, where olive groves characterize a wonderful landscape in the heart of Sardinia.”
Thirteen extra virgin olive oils from Lazio, which was the most represented region, took part in the national competition. They were all successful at the 25th edition of Orii del Lazio — Capolavori del gusto — the contest for the best extra virgin olive oils of the region, promoted by Unioncamere Lazio.
The Temple of Hadrian, the suggestive headquarters of the Chamber of Commerce of Rome, hosted the award ceremony on March 24. During the event, the secretary general of Unioncamere Lazio, Pietro Abate underlined “the role of the competition in promoting the regional productions, which reached the highest levels of quality.”
“Eighty-two thousand hectares of olive groves and four protected designations of origin (Sabina, Canino, Tuscia and Colline Pontine) give an idea of the importance of our extra virgin olive oils in the context of the national agri-food excellence,” the president of Unioncamere Lazio, Lorenzo Tagliavanti remarked.
Twenty-three participants from the province of Latina, 21 from Viterbo, 13 from Rieti, 9 from Rome and 7 from Frosinone competed in two categories. Other special prizes, including the Critics’ Award given by agri-food journalists, were bestowed.
The winners were selected by a professional panel through tasting sessions held at the chemical laboratory of the Chamber of Commerce of Rome, which is the body authorized to carry out chemical and physical analyzes for the certifications of protected designation of origin. The technical organization of the competition was implemented by Agro Camera, a special company of the Chamber of Commerce of Rome for the development of the agri-food sector.
“We are so glad about this recognition,” said Alessandro Donati of the Frantoio Oleario Narducci in Moricone. “At the beginning of the season, drought caused concern, but then the weather has settled down, and rains at the right time allowed us to obtain a very good product: fragrant, with harmonic bitterness and pungency,” pointed out the producer from the province of Rome, as runner-up in the medium fruity PDO Sabina category. “We recently renewed the machinery of our mill which gave us a great oil, and this is a reward of our commitment to quality.”