Tuscan Olive Oil Producers Stand Out at World Competition

Producers from the central Italian region were among the most awarded at the 2021 NYIOOC. Excellent conditions and organic methods helped many to win Gold.
Photo: Valentina Angelici Horecki
Jun. 17, 2021
Ylenia Granitto

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Part of our con­tin­u­ing spe­cial cov­er­age of the 2021 NYIOOC World Olive Oil Competition.


After what many pro­duc­ers called the best har­vest of the past two decades, Tuscany ranked among the most awarded olive grow­ing regions at the 2021 NYIOOC World Olive Oil Competition.

Favored by gen­er­ally good weather con­di­tions, farm­ers from the cen­tral Italy region were able to cope with the com­plex­i­ties aris­ing from the Covid-19 pan­demic and stood out as some of the best olive oil pro­duc­ers in the world.

I can say our work is in con­stant evo­lu­tion, and we improve our­selves one piece at a time. It is like every sea­son we write a page of the great book of qual­ity.- Romina Salvadori, co-owner, Il Cavallino

It was a great emo­tion,” Valentina Angelici Horecki told Olive Oil Times after receiv­ing the high­est recog­ni­tion for her organic Toscano PGI Oro di Gea.

I must say that we hoped to get a good result as we had a won­der­ful sea­son,” she added. Monitoring our grove, we real­ized that the plants and fruits were in good shape and that we could obtain an excel­lent prod­uct. The first tast­ing of our oil con­firmed the qual­ity we had imag­ined.”

In Terontola, a ham­let in the province of Arezzo, Angelici and her part­ner Ivano Mazzoleni man­age a 100-hectare prop­erty, Tenuta Angelici, which includes an agri­tourism ini­tia­tive.

Located on rolling hills at 500 meters of alti­tude, vine­yards and wood­lands grow along­side a grove com­posed of Frantoio, Leccino, Moraiolo and other ancient vari­eties such as Minuta.

See Also: The Best Olive Oils from Italy

This is a very small olive, dif­fi­cult to pick, yet it gives a char­ac­ter­is­tic note to our blend,” Angelici said.

Their 3,000 plants, of which a thou­sand are cen­turies-old, are man­aged accord­ing to the organic farm­ing method.

We recently planted new trees and still main­tained a tra­di­tional plant­ing pat­tern with the plants set at five or six meters from each other,” she said.

Preserving and improv­ing the envi­ron­men­tal bal­ance of the ter­ri­tory is a top pri­or­ity for many Tuscan farm­ers. This objec­tive is also pur­sued by Simone Botti, the pro­ducer behind Le Fontacce.

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Photo: Simone Botti

Located slightly north of Angelici, on the slopes of Mount Pratomagno, Botti pro­duces a medium organic blend that earned him a Gold Award.

I am very happy with this result,” he said from his farm in Loro Ciuffenna. It came at the end of a favor­able sea­son that allowed us to arrive at the mill with very healthy olives. Obtaining this award repays all the efforts put in over last year, in which, despite every­thing we have expe­ri­enced, we reached good results in terms both of qual­ity and quan­tity.”

Botti empha­sized that dur­ing har­vest­ing and milling oper­a­tions at the com­pany facil­ity, all the required Covid-19 safety pro­to­cols were fol­lowed to pro­tect the work­ers.

This allowed us to com­plete the task with­out any prob­lem,” he said. We can say it was not so easy, but we did it, every­thing went well, and it ended up with this recog­ni­tion.”

Botti takes care of 3,000 Frantoio, Leccino and Moraiolo trees, all of which are grown on land that has belonged to his fam­ily since the early 1800s. Besides the olive trees, other authocto­nous crops, such as legumes and irises, also grow under an organic pro­duc­tion regime.

Meanwhile, a green, unspoiled val­ley in the province of Florence is home to Fattoria di Volmiano, who was awarded by the inter­na­tional panel of the NYIOOC for its Laudemio.

It is a great sat­is­fac­tion for us to have received this Gold Award,” owner Lapo Gondi said. We started pro­duc­ing Laudemio last year. We joined the pro­duc­ers’ con­sor­tium in October and imme­di­ately ren­o­vated our oil mill, adopt­ing lat­est-gen­er­a­tion tech­nol­ogy.”

We had a really favor­able sea­son with no prob­lems from the olive fruit fly,” he added. We had a proper amount of rain at the right time that pre­vented any kind of water stress. In short, we had opti­mal con­di­tions for the plants to thrive and give us healthy fruits.”

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Photo: Fattoria di Volmiano

The farm cov­ers about 550 hectares on the hill­side of Morello Mountain, in Calenzano. More than 20,000 plants of Leccino, Moraiolo, Frantoio and Pendolino are spread over 70 hectares of olive groves sur­rounded by wood­lands. The prop­erty is included in a European Union Site of Community Importance.

In such an uncon­t­a­m­i­nated val­ley, that can be defined as the green lung of Florence, it was nat­ural for us to go organic,” Gondi said. We are truly com­mit­ted to pre­serve its rich bio­di­ver­sity.”

A Gold Award also went to Il Cavallino for its del­i­cate Special Edition blend, pro­duced by Romina Salvadori in the sea­side town of Bibbona, in the province of Livorno.

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Photo: Romina Salvadori

This award gives us great sat­is­fac­tion, as it demon­strates the qual­ity of our work,” Salvadori told Olive Oil Times. It con­firms that the direc­tion we have taken is the right one. Namely, not only do we run an olive grove and a mill and make a top prod­uct, but most impor­tantly, we take care of our land with great care and respect, liv­ing in har­mony with nature, in a healthy envi­ron­ment.”

Salvadori runs a 50-hectare orchard made up of autochtho­nous vari­eties. About 20,000 plants of Leccio del Corno, Leccino, Frantoio, Pendolino, Rosciolo and Lazzero give life to three pro­duc­tion lines.

Our qual­ity is result of a great team­work,” Salvadori said. She is sup­ported by her fam­ily, in par­tic­u­lar her father, Franco, who helps her pro­duce award-win­ning oils with his decades-long expe­ri­ence. During prun­ing and har­vest time, the two are flanked by a group of young pro­fes­sion­als too.

We always seek to improve our­selves, keep­ing only the best inno­va­tions,” she said. This means hav­ing a respect­ful approach to the ter­ri­tory through the organic prac­tices we apply in our olive grove and focus­ing on the tech­no­log­i­cal upgrad­ing of our mill.”

Every year, a few appro­pri­ate adjust­ments allow us to raise the qual­ity of our extra vir­gin olive oil,” she added. I can say our work is in con­stant evo­lu­tion, and we improve our­selves one piece at a time. It is like every sea­son we write a page of the great book of qual­ity.”

At Tenuta Capezzana, Filippo Contini Bonacossi cel­e­brates the Gold Award obtained for his organic blend of Frantoio, Leccino, Moraiolo and Pendolino olives.

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Photo: Tenuta Capezzana

This recog­ni­tion makes us proud,” he said. Some choices we made last year, which in such a com­plex moment, seemed to be bold and turned out to be suc­cess­ful. We made improve­ments to our crusher, choos­ing one of the lat­est gen­er­a­tion. We changed the malaxer with a new one under car­bon diox­ide, and we planned other adjust­ments.”

The olive mill, located in Carmignano, is at the heart of an estate founded by a mem­ber of the Medici fam­ily and has pro­duced wine and olive oil since 804 A.D. The prop­erty com­prises about 16,000 olive trees scat­tered over the provinces of Prato, Florence and Pistoia.

We man­age our orchards with the low­est envi­ron­men­tal impact,” Contini Bonacossi said. We are try­ing to improve the bio­di­ver­sity and pre­serve this beau­ti­ful land, which is why we apply good prac­tices like using green manure and organic fer­til­iz­ers.”

I believe that, in these times, pur­su­ing qual­ity while fol­low­ing the prin­ci­ples of sus­tain­abil­ity are key,” he added. We lived such an incred­i­ble time. We saw a stop in human activ­i­ties, while nature did not stop. Indeed, it enjoyed this break incred­i­bly.”

I really hope that all this helped to improve people’s men­tal­ity and to make every­one under­stand that with our daily choices, includ­ing the prod­ucts we chose to con­sume, we can change things for the bet­ter,” Contini Bonacossi con­cluded.


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