The quality of the products evaluated during the twenty-seventh edition of the Ercole Olivario was yet another affirmation of the commitment and resilience of Italian olive growers to producing high-quality extra virgin olive oil.
At the end of a tough season, 185 participants from 17 regions competed in the prestigious competition for the best Italian extra virgin olive oils, showing how their efforts transformed into excellence.
The high level of quality, not affected by the drop in volumes, confirms the excellent characteristics of the regional product.
“Despite the heavy drop in production recorded this year, Italy has chosen to focus on the enhancement of quality,” the organizers said during the award ceremony of the contest, which bears the name of a Roman temple dedicated to Hercules Olivarius.
“Since the first edition in 1993, more than 8,800 labels participated,” Giorgio Mencaroni, the president of the Chamber of Commerce of Perugia, said.
See more: Olive Oil Competitions
Perugia’s Chamber of Commerce collaborated with the Italian Union of Chambers of Commerce, Industry, Handicrafts and Agriculture, the Italian Chamber System and olive grower organizations to organize the competition.
A national panel composed of professional tasters assessed the products according to various categories, extra virgin olive oils and PGIs and PDOs, each of which were divided into light, medium, and intense fruitiness.
Special prizes went to the best monovarietal and the best organic oil, while the Amphora Olearia award went to the best packaging. The Lekythos award, for those committed to disseminating knowledge on quality olive oil, was given to the Carabineri Colonel Luigi Cortellessa, from the command unit for the agri-food protection.
In all, 16 winners celebrated their victories on March 30 at the congress center of the Chamber of Commerce of Perugia. Umbrian producers earned four awards, while producers from Trentino, Puglia and Sicily took home two awards each. Producers from Abruzzo, Calabria, Sardinia, Tuscany, Liguria and Lombardy each earned one award.
“This is a great reward for our commitment over the years, and it encourages us to do even better,” Lucia Talotta, of the Oleificio Torchia in Tiriolo, said. The producer from the province of Catanzaro, in Calabria, won first prize in the medium-fruity extra virgin olive oil category, with a blend of Carolea, Coratina and Nocellara.
“Fifteen years ago, we added new plants to the main olive grove located on hills at an altitude between 600 and 700 meters (1,968 and 2,296 feet),” she added. “The idea was to make a great blend. Harvesting on these steep slopes is not always easy, but our hard work has paid off, and in difficult seasons like the current one, we are more motivated than ever to achieve the highest level of quality.”
A complete list of winners of the Ercole Olivario may be found here.
A distinctive feature of the national competition lies in preliminary regional selections.
Among these is the ‘Orii del Lazio – Capolavori del Gusto’ (Golds of Lazio – Masterpieces of Taste), which was first established as a territorial selection procedure and has gained importance over the years.
A total of 45 labels produced by 38 different companies participated in this preliminary competition. Of these participants, 10 were chosen for the Ercole Olivario awards.
“The high level of quality, not affected by the drop in volumes, confirms the excellent characteristics of the regional product,” Pietro Abate, the secretary general of Unioncamere Lazio, which promotes the competition, said.
“[More than 200,000 acres of] olives trees and four PDOs give a sense of the importance of the extra virgin olive oils within the context of of our agri-food products,” Lorenzo Tagliavanti, the president of the president of Unioncamere Lazio, said.
The four regional PDOs in this competition – Sabina, Canino, Tuscia, and Colline Pontine – each accounted for one category.
The samples were evaluated by a panel of experienced tasters at the chemical laboratory of the Chamber of Commerce of Rome.
Among the various recognitions, special prizes went to the best monovarietal and the best organic oil, the Tonino Zelinotti award went to the best packaging, while a recognition went to the oil with the highest content of polyphenols and tocopherols.
Cosmo Di Russo was awarded the best intense fruity Colline Pontine PDO, the best monovarietal, and a critics’ award given by journalists.
“These recognitions are important because they constitute a further opportunity to represent our territory,” the producer from Gaeta said. “They make us proud towards our consumers, especially those abroad, who are fond of our quality connected to our land.”
An expertly processed Itrana gives life to Don Pasquale, which bears the name of Cosmo’s father.
“This is a tribute to him, who put himself out there, with energy and passion, in the pursuit of high-quality, which is our main objective,” Di Russo said.
The winners of the competition (which may be found here by clicking on the bottom right “I vincitori 2019 – Categorie”) were announced on March 23 in Rome’s Chamber of Commerce, at the Temple of Hadrian.