`Israel Hosts TerraOlivo Extra Virgin Olive Oil Competition - Olive Oil Times

Israel Hosts TerraOlivo Extra Virgin Olive Oil Competition

Aug. 5, 2010
Liz Tagami

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Lourdes Toujas, Argentina and Isabel Mazzucchelli, Uruguay

Last week 24 International olive oil judges from five coun­tries par­tic­i­pated in a new extra vir­gin olive oil com­pe­ti­tion held in Israel. The orga­niz­ers of TerraOlivo attracted 189 entrants from four­teen coun­tries for this event, which enabled many Israeli pro­duc­ers the oppor­tu­nity to have their EVOOs judged against top olive oils from around the world for the first time. Additionally, a full day of lec­tures, pan­els, and a guided tast­ing was offered to the pub­lic after the com­pe­ti­tion, and an awards cer­e­mony fol­lowed by a gala din­ner com­pleted the event at the Inbal Hotel, a five star venue sit­u­ated within walk­ing dis­tance from the old city of Jerusalem, home to thou­sands of years of olive oil his­tory.

The response from both large and small extra vir­gin olive oil pro­duc­ers was encour­ag­ing. Spain led the pack with 61 entries fol­lowed by Israel with 46. Italian pro­duc­ers sub­mit­ted 26 EVOOs, Portugal 14 and Argentina 13. Chile and the USA each had 6 entries fol­lowed by Uruguay with 5. Croatia and Greece each had 3 oils sub­mit­ted, South Africa and Turkey 2, and Malta and Palestine 1 oil each. The olive oils were divided into three classes for the blind tast­ings: blends, vari­etals and fla­vored oils.

The cal­iber of the entrants was quite high with 38 gold medals awarded; 70 oils rated high enough to earn a Prestige Gold” award, and six gar­nered a Gran Prestige Gold”.

The Best of Show went to Olearia San Giorgio Fratelli Fazari S.N.S. from Calabria. Full results are avail­able at the bot­tom of this page.

Dr. Antonio Lauro, panel leader from Italy

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Israel enjoys a mod­est annual vol­ume in olive oil pro­duc­tion, sim­i­lar to California’s, with less than 1 per­cent of the world’s pro­duc­tion, how­ever it is best known for its export of knowl­edge about opti­miz­ing crop yield via plant breed­ing, irri­ga­tion, and other dis­ci­plines. It is a lit­tle known fact that Kibbutz Hatzerim pio­neered the first large scale com­mer­cial drip irri­ga­tion busi­ness, and today owns and oper­ates Netafim, the world’s lead­ing com­pany in water tech­nolo­gies intend­ing to increase yields and improve crop pro­duc­tion while pre­serv­ing qual­ity and quan­tity of water and soil fertility.

In this cul­tural con­text of opti­miz­ing land and crops, top agron­o­mists from var­i­ous farms and uni­ver­si­ties were fea­tured speak­ers at this year’s con­fer­ence start­ing with an intro­duc­tion from Professor Emeritus Shimon Lavee, of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Faculty of Agriculture and the Agricultural Research Organization (ARO) at the Volcani Center for Agricultural Research. Professor Lavee is dis­tin­guished by his many aca­d­e­mic and prac­ti­cal accom­plish­ments and con­tri­bu­tions in olive pro­duc­tion, includ­ing in part the devel­op­ment of the Barnea and Askal vari­eties of olives, pub­lish­ing over 150 sci­en­tific papers, serv­ing as the Israeli del­e­gate to the International Olive Council (IOC) and elected its pres­i­dent from 2000 – 2008. He dis­cussed Israel’s accom­plish­ments over the past decades to today, remark­ing we have a begin­ning here.”

Carlos Falcó, Marqués de Griñón, Juror and Keynote Speaker

Ms. Mercedes Fernández Albadalejo, head of the Olive Oil Chemistry and Standards Unit of the International Olive Oil Council flew in from Madrid to make open­ing remarks as well, fol­lowed by the keynote lec­ture from his­toric and acclaimed pro­ducer D. Carlos Falcó y Fernández de Córdova, the Marqués de Griñón, whose oil is avail­able in top shops world­wide, includ­ing Williams-Sonoma in the US. The Marqués was a dynamic speaker, address­ing the audi­ence in English and deliv­er­ing a very acces­si­ble and com­pelling overview of his per­sonal involve­ment in improv­ing polyphe­nol lev­els in olive oil on his farm via cul­ti­var selec­tion, har­vest tim­ing, and extrac­tion method. This is, of course, in response to the lat­est research on the role that polyphe­nols play in human health. From 2001 to 2009 the Marqués has been able to improve polyphe­nol counts from 110 to 699 (a very high level), with­out sac­ri­fic­ing the har­mony and bal­ance of an oil. Testing indi­cates that these higher polyphe­nol EVOOs not only enjoy supe­rior health prop­er­ties with higher fla­vors, but that shelf life can be extended to over 3 years

Dr. Fathi abd El-Hadi, panel leader, IsraelTwo ses­sions fol­lowed the lec­ture, the first Olive Oil & Health” fea­tured three inter­na­tional speak­ers, which ran con­cur­rently with Olive Oil Branding & Culinary”, which also fea­tured three speak­ers, but was more geared to grow­ing than brand­ing. Dr. Fathi abd el Hadi, founder and taste panel leader for Israel’s IOC cer­ti­fied tast­ing panel addressed new hori­zons for olive grow­ing with the intro­duc­tion of both new cul­ti­vars as well as the increas­ing use of super high den­sity in Israel; Dr. Reuven Birger, the chief spe­cial­ist on olive grow­ing for the Israeli Olive Board addressed opti­miz­ing milling, and Dr. Antonio Lauro, a taste panel leader and olive oil con­sul­tant from Calabria talked about aro­mas and fla­vors in olive oil.

Despite the aggres­sive sched­ule, there was ample time for atten­dees to min­gle with the speak­ers dur­ing breaks, lunch and a recep­tion in the evening before the awards cer­e­mony, and the enthu­si­asm for this inau­gural event was pal­pa­ble. TerraOlivo 2010 closed with a gala din­ner for 180 guests pre­pared by Inbal Hotel Executive Chef Itzik Barak, which fea­tured olive oil on the menu from appe­tiz­ers to desserts.

Mr. Moshe Spak, one of the orga­niz­ers, was quite happy with the turn out and is look­ing for­ward to an even larger event next year. The next TerraOlivo com­pe­ti­tion and conference
is ten­ta­tively sched­uled for April 2011. More infor­ma­tion can be found on the TerraOlivo web­site.

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