It was the moment hundreds of olive oil producers from around the world had been waiting for. In front of an excited crowd at the International Culinary Center in New York City at 6:00 PM tonight, Curtis Cord, president of the New York International Olive Oil Competition (NYIOOC), announced the best olive oils in the world for 2015.
This week, olive oil producers, marketers, food industry professionals and press gathered in SoHo for the third annual NYIOOC Conference. They were joined by viewers worldwide tuning into the live-streamed broadcast.
See more: The Complete Results of the 2015 New York International Olive Oil Competition
Despite one of the roughest harvest seasons in recent memory in many regions, especially in southern Italy, 671 olive oils vied for the coveted Gold, Silver and Best in Class awards, and to be among the best olive oils in the world, as the winners of the yearly contest are known.
Full results are available on the official website, bestoliveoils.com. The site details each winning oil’s unique features, judges’ tasting notes and links to producers’ websites and points of sale.
The NYIOOC draws the most renowned judges — top expert tasters from nine countries. The 2015 panel was lead by Dr. Giuseppe Di Lecce, Food Chemistry Department, Eurofins Chemical Control; Eleftheria Germanaki, panel supervisor, Greek Accreditation Authority, and Dr. Brígida Jímenez Herrera, director, IFAPA de Cabra.
The professional tasters spent three days meticulously scrutinizing each entry, one by one. “They understand the need to recognize excellence for us all,” said NYIOOC president Curtis Cord. “These are the best judges in the world. They are completely committed to this important task.”
Cord explained the difficulty of winning with a baseball analogy: “Most people in this town will tell you the Yankees are the best team in the world. And it was true, in 2009. But in 2014 they were not the best, the San Francisco Giants were. This year, they’ll try again. Like baseball, you can’t rest on your laurels. Each year is a new season with a new set of challenges.”
“Every harvest, olive oil producers face climate change, fluctuations of their olive trees, and countless steps along the way where plenty can go wrong,” Cord added. “When things do go wrong, we have 15 of the most highly trained experts in the world to detect that.”
“That’s why this competition is an annual event — and the resulting list of winners represent the best olive oils for 2015 — not last year’s, not next year’s.”
Of the NYIOOC olive oil contenders, 49 percent were found to exhibit defects. The submissions from Italy were down by about one third this year due to a season of unprecedented environmental challenges; entries were up from most other countries.
In total, the judges named 251 award-winning olive oils. Spain’s oils won the most prizes, followed by those from Italy, USA, Greece and Portugal. Spain achieved awards with 54 percent of their entries, Italy with 43 percent, the USA with 41 percent and Greece with 21 percent.
Cord presented trophies to several olive oil producers in attendance, including Albea Blanca from Spain, a new company just eight months old. Albea Blanca submitted four oils, and won three Gold and one Silver Award. There were tears of joy.
The Australian producer, Boundary Bend, took home the highest-ever number of awards with nine, including two Best in Class, for its Cobram Estate oils produced in Australia and the United States — an achievement Cord called “simply astounding.”
Many consumers are deeply confused about olive oil. They want to know where to find product they can trust to deliver the quality they pay for. The list of NYIOOC winners provides a reliable resource for retailers, distributors, chefs and consumers looking for high quality olive oils.