Nineteen Greek olive oils earned a coveted spot as ‘one of the world’s best’ at this year’s New York International Olive Oil Competition (NYIOOC). The judges awarded a majority of them, 12 in all, Gold Award status.
See more: The Complete List of the World's Best Olive Oils for 2014
Overall, it was a record number of awards given to Greek producers at the yearly competition. Greece remains one of the top olive oil producing nations in the world and boasts the highest consumption of olive oil per person.
“Renowned international awards such as the Gold Award at the NYIOOC confirm our high quality standards and inspire us to continue to do our best,” said Felix Bläuel of Bläuel Greek Organic Products. His product, Mani Bläuel originates from Koroneiki olives grown on the rocky seaside region of Greece called Mani. “For our olive oil, this means that our customers can rely on a consistent and excellent standard, which is confirmed by a prestigious international jury.”
Most of the winning Greek olive oils were produced from Koroneiki olives. However, one winning producer, Kyklopas, relies on the Makri local olive variety which is grown in the northernmost area of the country where olive oil can be produced. Kyklopas is the only Greek producer to claim two Gold Awards this year, for their Ktimata Kyklopas and Olive Mill Kyklopas products.
“Our olives come from trees that are between 500 to 2,500 years old which means the soil and climate are a wonderful combination that in the end produces olive oil that has a strong taste, and complexity of flavors,” says Niki Kelidou of Kyklopas who adds that winning two Gold Awards this time around just means they will work harder. “Winning the NYIOOC is definitely satisfying but we won’t rest. Every year we will continue to stand by our commitment to keep our quality at the top.”
For the Industry
“We literally jumped for joy upon hearing we won the Gold in New York,” says Leonidas Daskalos who produces the award-winning St. Olive Single Harvest Series. “It certainly gives us strength and courage for the future.”
See more: Complete List of the World's Best Olive Oils for 2014
Daskalos adds that the large amount of winners from Greece proves to him that the industry is moving along. He says Greece has superior quality olive oils that should be internationally recognized as other Greek products have including yogurt, cheese and wine. “It makes us happy to see so many producers bottling their extra virgin olive oil instead of selling it in bulk. They are gaining the recognition they deserve versus giving that recognition away. The NYIOOC awards help lift the Greek brand overall and helps all of us when reaching out to international buyers.”
He says there is still work to be done by Greek olive oil producers when it comes to marketing and production. “Greek producers need to position themselves and target the right customers based on the quality of their product rather than price since other olive oil producing countries have, in many cases, lower production costs.”
When Esti Early Harvest was announced as a Gold Award recipient, judges pointed out its “exceptional harmony, a high complexity and a high persistence.” George Papageorgiou of Esti says such recognition is great for his Koroneiki variety extra virgin olive oil but also for the Greek olive oil industry in general. “Greek olive oils are of really outstanding quality and with the array of winners this year from Greece I hope more Greek producers can find their way to the shelves of retailers around the world.”
“The NYIOCC is very competitive and the fact that an international panel of experts in olive oil tasting agree with us about our premium quality means a lot for our product,” says Ioannis Leftheriotis of Bonum Terrae who says the Gold Award is a great success for his team’s efforts to produce top quality extra virgin olive in the protected designation of origin (PDO) of North Mylopotamos in Rethymno, Crete.
Leftheriotis adds that the larger presence of Greek producers on the NYIOOC award stage is a positive sign. “We believe that a prestigious award of an international contest such as NYIOOC can be considered as a passport for international markets. It would be great if people from all over the globe knew the quality of Greek olive oil.”