Twenty olive oils from Greece have been awarded “Best in the World” at the 2016 New York International Olive Oil Competition (NYIOOC). Greece submitted 180 oils to the NYIOOC, more than any other country besides Italy, who entered 184.
The high number of contenders is indeed a sign that Greek producers are striving for quality and to distinguish their brands in the marketplace. Yet only 11 percent of those took home awards, compared to last year’s 21 percent, and Italy’s 59 percent.
Their success rate, which fell from 22% last year to just 11% this time, will no doubt lead many to take a hard look at their production processes.
“We Greeks are stubborn,” said a Greek olive oil producer who attended the press event and wished to remain anonymous. “Many need to change their ways to improve the quality of their oil, but we are convinced we are already the best. Ego gets in the way.”
See more: The Best Greek Olive Oils for 2016
“Last year (at the 2015 NYIOOC) we thought we were seeing a clear upward trend when 22 percent of the Greek brands were awarded — a promising improvement from the 15 percent rate of success the year before,” said Curtis Cord, the NYIOOC president. “This year’s disappointing showing will no doubt lead many to take a hard look at their production processes.”
Greek oils shine on store shelves with innovative branding and striking packaging designs. And twenty olive oils wowed the panel of 15 expert judges with the quality of the juice inside the bottles. Two olive oils from Greece were awarded Best in class, eight received Gold awards and ten Silver.
One of those silver awards went to Oliorama Exclusive Bio, an early-harvested oil from Ancient Olympia. Maria Spiliakopoulou, who produces Oliorama, was overcome with joy upon hearing the news of her win at the press conference. “It’s a very, very highly esteemed competition,” she said. “Whoever wins, wins prestige.” She’s been making olive oil for thirty years. “Every single part of the process has to be perfect.”
“We’re thrilled,” said Dino Pierrakos, who took home a Silver award for his family’s Laconiko Olio Nuovo for the third year in a row. Perfected over four generations, his single estate Koroneiki olives are handpicked in Trinisa, Laconia, off the sandy beaches of southern Greece. Laconiko is unfiltered; “The sediment sinks as the oil travels across the Atlantic,” he said.
Argali, a delicate Koroneiki from Greece, was among the Best in Class. Argali’s organic, highly sustainable approach ensures the protection of natural resources. They don’t even irrigate their trees.
For the full list of winners, visit bestoliveoils.com.