The award ceremony of the eighth EVO IOOC Italy took place at the Municipal Villa of Palmi, Calabria, on June 30.
The sea of the Violet Coast at sunset was the suggestive backdrop of the final event of the international competition chaired by Antonio G. Lauro, which this year registered the participation of 694 entries, including 623 extra virgin olive oils and 71 flavored olive oils, from 26 countries.
The unveiling of the Best in Show awards was the main event of the evening, which opened with greetings from representatives of local and regional institutions.See Also:In Italy, Olive Growers See Signs of a Promising Harvest
After announcing 38 finalists with 43 labels, the organizers handed out the Best International and Best in Class awards – three prizes went to both Italian and Brazilian companies, two were for Spanish companies and one went to a company from the United States.
The Best of Country and Special Awards completed the list of the recognitions bestowed during the event, adding to the gold and silver medals previously published on the EVO IOOC website and social media pages.
All the accolades result from the sensory evaluations conducted in mid-May by an international panel of 24 professional tasters from 11 countries.
“Warmly welcomed by this charming corner of Calabria that hosted them during the tasting sessions, all the judges were pleasantly amazed by the very high quality of the competing products,” Lauro told Olive Oil Times.
Calabria is located on the southwesternmost tip of the Italian peninsula and is the country’s second-largest olive oil-producing region after Puglia.
“Their opinion on the competition is unanimous about its role as a tool for promoting productions of excellence and its effectiveness in raising the quality bar ever higher,” he added. “They emphasized that it contributes to giving the producers a decisive boost towards excellence, making them ever more willing to take the challenge and improve themselves.”
He was echoed by the managing director Stefania Reggio: “The number of participants and the increasingly high quality of the entries confirm the solidity and value of the project,” she said.
“We thank those who contributed to the success of EVO IOOC, from the management team to the judges, as well as the institutional and private partners,” Reggio added. “They all played a fundamental role in making this contest an important event to the service of producers.”
During the prizegiving, the organizers underlined that a significant number of extra virgin olive oils and flavored olive oils achieved a score of at least 95 points out of 100, which is evidence of the high quality reported by the judges.
They also unveiled the other competition figures, which received the highest number of entries from the Northern Hemisphere (86 percent). Italy submitted the highest number (169 entries, equal to 24.4 percent of the total), followed by Turkey (17 percent), Greece (12.7 percent), Israel (10.1 percent), and Spain (7.5 percent).
Brazil (9.4 percent) completed the list of the most represented countries in the competition, bringing the presence of products from the Southern Hemisphere to 14 percent.
All the Italian olive-producing regions were represented, led by Calabria and Sicily, accounting for 21 percent each. Entries from Puglia accounted for 13 percent of all the Italian products in the competition.
More than 300 monovarietals participated in the contest, accounting for 51 percent of the total. Protected Designations of Origin (PDO) and Protected Geographical Indications (PGI) represented 11.4 percent of the entries, while certified organic productions exceeded 20 percent.
Among the winners, the Best of Calabria Special Award went to Tenute Cristiano for its Grand Cru, a blend of Carolea and Nocellara Messinese produced in Lamezia Terme.
“We are overjoyed to receive this recognition that repays the great work made and our commitment towards quality over the years,” Isabella Cristiano said. “We strongly believe in the broad value of premium extra virgin olive oil, and we constantly strive for higher standards.”
“To do this, we experiment a lot and try to improve ourselves constantly,” Cristiano added. “We have noticed that, on the commercial level, awards like this have a very positive impact since they are further guaranteed for the consumers about the high quality of the product.”
The complete list of winners can be found on the EVO IOOC website.