Once again, Italy achieved major success at the 2017 New York International Olive Oil Competition (NYIOOC), with a record 124 awards among 198 entries. The country ranked first in both the number of contestants and awarded brands. Italian producers achieved outstanding results even after fighting the hardships of one of the worst harvest seasons in recent times, which reduced thier usual production by half.
The New York competition is a major showcase and the favorable appraisal of such an international high-level panel is an important recognition of our dedication.
Italian producers are living proof that devotion and perseverance are the fundamental resources to get great results under any condition.
See more: The Best Italian Olive Oils for 2017
At Fattoria Ramerino, three miles from the Brunelleschi’s dome in Florence, they say that “the recognition of the NYIOOC is very important for producers, but also useful to disclose more and more the value of quality to consumers.”
Filippo Alampi won a Gold Award with Guadagnòlo Primus, a blend of Frantoio and Moraiolo with a bit of Leccino and Pendolino, and a Silver Award with the monocultivar Moraiolo.
“Last harvest was complicated, and not satisfying regarding quantity, but the most careful farmers managed to defend olive groves with appropriate strategies,” Alampi told Olive Oil Times. “Diligent producers obtained good products despite the drop in yield, and organic producers like us reached great results which rewarded all the efforts,” Alampi observed. “Going organic was a challenge but also gave us great satisfaction.”
“These recognitions are not just goals but above all the beginning of a new challenge,” said Lorenzo Fasola Bologna, who manages Castello Monte Vibiano Vecchio, the first company in the agricultural sector to have eliminated their greenhouse gas emissions in accordance with the international standard ISO 14064. “I think this approach is not only good for the environment but also for the quality of our extra virgin olive oils,” he pointed out.
“I believe, in fact, that any kind of food includes a part of the environment in which it is produced. This is also a way to show that working in a healthy environment can bring great results.” Bologna will set up a new machinery in the mill that will be ready for the next harvest, because “every type of olive requires a different kind of crushing system,” he observed. “We want to be versatile and have the ability to offer different extra virgin olive oils with the most expressive features.”
“I am so glad about these awards, which are an incentive to continue our work with devotion,” Paolo Bonomelli told Olive Oil Times right after having received the news of his outstanding victory which consisted of three awards.
Bonomelli obtained a Best in Class with TreFórt, a blend of Casaliva, Trepp and Fort, and two Gold Awards for the monovariatel Ca’Rainene Drizzar Garda DOP and the blend Ca’Rainene Garda DOP, which is a combination of Casaliva, Leccino and Pendolino.
The recognition in New York was achieved with hard work and constant monitoring of olive groves, Bonomelli revealed, considering that production of excellence requires effort and dedication, which generate high costs.
“The only way to keep the quality high is to ensure correct remuneration to those who produce it,” Bonomelli pointed out. “It is important that consumers recognize that the value of high-quality products must be translated into an appropriate price. Large amounts are spent for many worthless goods, while extra virgin olive oil is an invaluable treasure, and paying the right price allows producers to improve quality.”
“We are proud of this recognition, as the NYIOOC is a very high profile event, thanks to which we made our national and international customers proud of us,” said Michele Librandi, who manage the family farm with his sisters Carmela, Angela and Lucia and his brother Pino.
“We were very careful to select this competition to enter with our extra virgin olive oil produced in the secular farm Tenute Librandi Pasquale, dedicated to my father who inherited the olive groves from his great-grandfather,” remarked Librandi.
Librandi’s 150-hectares (370-acre) olive grove requires effort that he said were made with pleasure and passion and which led to the Gold Award. Their monocultivar Nocellara del Belice has herbaceous aroma with a hint of tomato leaf, which differs from the typical Nocellara thanks to the particular pedoclimatic conditions of their olive groves.
“We are delighted with this great result,” said Paolo Di Gaetano after receiving the Best in Class for the Gran Cru. Di Gaetano affirmed that after a particularly difficult season, the award recognized a great deal of effort that he made with his brother Simone Di Gaetano at the Tuscan farm Fonte di Foiano.
“Now, we have to expect every year to have a different level of complexity and the harvests to be no longer easy,” he observed. “Olive trees are suffering from climate change, so we have to pay constant attention and provide adequate care.”
Di Gaetano encouraged other manufacturers by saying, “this award is a demonstration that farmers who work hard every day can produce a high-quality extra virgin olive oil every year, despite all the difficulties.” He specified that to obtain this result it was necessary to go to the olive grove daily. Thanks to this approach, the farm produced an excellent blend of Frantoio, Moraiolo, Maurino and Picholine, which were harvested at different times and then blended for an intense and harmonious extra virgin olive oil which seduced the international panel of the NYIOOC.
Villa Pontina is a monovarietal of Itrana produced in accordance with the specification of the Colline Pontine DOP. “Despite the difficult harvest and the young age of our company we got this prize alongside many seasoned producers,” said Francesco Le Donne who managed the farm with his uncle, Lucio Pontecorvi.
After graduating in finance and traveling the world, Le Donne came back to Sonnino to take care of the olive trees planted by his grandparents. “I returned with the desire to produce extra virgin olive oil, preserving their heritage and studying everything about Liquid Gold from production to tasting,” he revealed. With an organic approach that is ready to be converted to biodynamic, they first tackled a warm winter, then heavy rains on flowers and the onset of the olive fly and finally achieved a Gold Award for the second year in a row.
“The New York competition is a major showcase and the favorable appraisal of such an international high-level panel is an important recognition of our dedication,” said the experienced producer Nicolangelo Marsicani, adding that “the NYIOOC is a contest that every producer should attend to prove themselves among so many manufacturers from all over the world.”
He won a Gold Award for the second year with a monovarietal Frantoio DOP Cilento, which came out from olives harvested in his olive groves in the first decade of October rigorously crushed within 6 hours, under the supervision of a small group of experts and tasters. “The particular season has made it difficult to process olives as they were literally full of water,” Marsicani explained. “We adjusted the extraction techniques according to raw material delivered to the miller and we obtained a very good product.”
At NYIOOC, several awards in a row went to Titone. “I am glad about this latest result,” said Antonella Titone who won a Silver Award with an organic extra virgin olive oil DOP Valli Trapanesi, a medium fruity blend with Nocellara del Belice and Cerasuola, with notes of tomato, grass and artichoke.
Their olive groves are located in Trapani and, during the period of the last harvest, it was so hot that even if the olives were healthy from an agronomic point of view, they set up a special thermo-conditioned storage to stock the freshly-harvested olives and bring their temperature down.
“Over the next few years we will work to improve this aspect,” Titone revealed. “Due to the organic management, we are very careful about the evolution of fruits during the year and we always monitor the olive grove especially in the summer, which is a useful and necessary habit to obtain an oil like the one which won.”
“I’m very pleased with this award,” Giuseppe Rosso told Olive Oil Times, pointing out that his monocultivar Tonda Iblea “was recently rediscovered and has been recognized thanks to its unique flavor of tomato.”
The farm Villa Zottopera is located in Chiaramonte Gulfi and has belonged to his family for more than four centuries. Most of the olive trees are 300- to 400-years old and some plants are up to 1,000 years of age. Now, they export 90 percent of production.
Rosso explained that the Tonda Iblea has a “double aptitude,” and in the last years, it has been recovered for the production of hiqh-quality extra virgin olive oil. “It suffers a bit from the alternation of production but it can give excellent products,” he said, considering the result that he obtained through organic management and a harvest between the end of September and the first days of October — the elements which led to a well-deserved Gold Award.