Maria Paola Gabusi and some winners of the Leone dOro

The 27th edition of the Leone d’Oro dei Mastri Oleari culminated in an event on Lake Garda on May 12. The awards ceremony which concluded the international competition took place at O’Live & Italy in Toscolano Maderno, in the shadows of centuries-old olive trees surrounding the headquarters of the association chaired by Maria Paola Gabusi, dedicated to the promotion of the culture of extra virgin olive oil.

During the event, the oils admitted to the competition were put at the disposal of participants and guided tastings were conducted to show buyers, journalists, social media influencers and enthusiasts the sensorial properties of the award-winning extra virgin olive oils.

A panel of experienced tasters evaluated 260 entries from Italy, Spain, Greece, Portugal, Croatia, Slovenia, California and Brazil. The winners were classified into seven categories including Italian Monovarietal, International Monovarietal, Italian Blend, International Blend, Italian Organic, International Organic and Small Italian producers.

The regulation provided for a maximum of ten finalists for each category of which the first three were awarded Gold, Silver and Bronze medals.

See more: Leone d’Oro dei Mastri Oleari Finalists and Winners

Four special prizes were added to the conventional categories. “I devised new awards for this edition of the contest, and then I introduced special juries in addition to the traditional panel of professional tasters,” explained the president of the contest, Maria Paola Gabusi.

The Leone d’Oro Kids award was given by fourth-graders. “After a brief intro session on olive oil culture, we compared high-quality and low-quality oils. Then the children tasted the oils in competition and filled out the form. It was gratifying and exciting to see their commitment to the evaluation of the samples and their interest in this new adventure,” she said.

The Leone d’Oro Social was awarded by a jury of tasters selected among bloggers and social media influencers who, after an introduction to the tasting technique, chose another high-quality product. “This was an original way to share the passion for extra virgin olive oil and spread it through the social media,” Gabusi noted, adding that the Leone d’Oro Best Packaging was awarded by a jury of designers, photographers, illustrators, advertisers and artists.

The attractive bottle of Vernèra’s extra virgin olive oil Le terre di Vito won the category. “We are so glad about this award which recognizes the attention we paid to each detail of our products,” said Tania Spanò, who manages some olive groves in the territory of Buccheri in the province of Siracusa with her sister Maria Grazia and her brother Gaetano. “The season was great and the good weather conditions helped us to obtain an excellent oil from our plants of Tonda Iblea, Biancolilla and Moresca.”

The novelty in the competition was the First Female Heroic Agriculture Award. “It was a tribute to all women who succeeded against the odds and challenged preconceptions, turning their lives around and becoming passionate producers of extra virgin olive oil,” the organizer said. “We received stories of courage, fear, challenges and choices made by women. This was a reward for the narration and for once the oil bows to the words.”

The winner of the category was Claudia Morace, who produces the Olio dei Tatanni in Panzano in Chianti.

“I was not born to a peasant family, but I love nature. I am a daughter of the sea and the woods. Born in the immediate post-war period, from a Neapolitan father and an Austrian mother…” Thus began her touching story and you can read the rest of it here, along with the others.


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