Producers from southern France and Corsica combined to earn 11 awards from 26 entries in the 2022 World Olive Oil Competition.
Part of our continuing special coverage of the 2022 NYIOOC World Olive Oil Competition.
French producers took home 11 awards at the tenth edition of the world’s most prestigious extra virgin olive oil quality competition.
The Mediterranean country’s producers combined to earn seven Gold and four Silver Awards at the 2022 NYIOOC World Olive Oil Competition – the country’s second-best result at the competition – after a harvest complicated by springtime frosts.See Also:Best Olive Oils From France
Mas des Bories from the town of Salon-de-Provence in the country’s southeast earned a Gold Award for its medium blend.
“As newcomers to the world of olive growing, we are proud that the quality of our extra virgin olive oil is recognized internationally in a competition as prestigious as the NYIOOC,” owner Claire de Fina Coutin told Olive Oil Times.
“It is also a feeling of deep satisfaction to be rewarded for our efforts and work in our continuous search for authenticity and excellence,” she added.
De Fina Coutin said the accolade reinforces their choice of an artisanal approach, small-scale production and controlling the production chain from the tree to the bottle.
She said the olives for Mas des Bories’s award-winning AOP de Provence blend – Salonenque, Bouteillan, Grossane and Aglandau – are harvested separately at optimum maturity, which is becoming increasingly difficult with the impact of climate change. Immediately after harvest, the olives are transformed individually in their mill.
De Fina Coutin said that despite a terrible drought and heat, they had a good fruit set. “This gives us hope for a good harvest in 2022,” she said.
Domaine de Leos, from nearby L’Isles-sur-la-Sorgue, also won a Gold Award for its Sélection Fruité Vert, a medium blend.
Joël Gayet, the manager of Domaine de Leos, said they were pleased about receiving the award.
“This is the eighth gold medal we have won in 2022,” he said. “Personally, I am happy for the team and for the owner, Patrick Bruel, who has made this quest for excellence an ambition shared by all.”
“The award is a guarantee, and it validates the choices we have made so far, even if we are aware that the search for excellence remains a quest,” he added.
For Gayat, the consistency of these awards sets Domaine de Leos apart from its competitors, adding that they refer to the flavor of their oil as “original” because it is reminiscent of the green olives from which it was created.
He said the company’s production was limited due to adverse weather conditions last year, adding that Domaine de Leos is looking to continue their quest for excellence in the next harvest.
Another producer from Provence, Miraval, received a Silver Award for its organic medium Picholine blend.
“We are very proud while hoping to do even better next year,” said Nicole De Luca, the business development coordinator for De Medici Imports, the marketer for Miraval in the United States. “It shows that we are on the right path in creating the best oil possible. We strive to do even better and get a Gold next time.”
“Chateau Miraval is a very special place, sitting at an average of 1,200 feet (365 meters) and roughly 40 minutes from the coast where olive trees have been grown organically for over 3,000 years,” she added. “Today, we have roughly 4,000 trees and 13 cultivars hand-harvested and processed by our team on our property.”
“We are dedicated to creating the best oil from these special olives and sharing the harvest from our unique terroir,” De Luca continued. “We are a very small producer and take special care at every step of the process to ensure the best quality oil goes into every single crock.”
De Luca said Miraval’s previous harvest was average in terms of quantity, but they were able to produce extra virgin olive oil of the best quality.
“We can no longer predict anything,” De Luca said in reference to the upcoming harvest. “Winters are dryer and warmer each year. On top of that, we’re currently experiencing an unexpected major heat wave. So who knows what’s next? Nevertheless, we continue to be diligent and care for our trees.”
Château Virant, in the southeastern Coteaux d’Aix-en-Provence region between Aix-en-Provence and Marseille, took home a Silver Award for its medium blend.
Christine Cheylan, Château Virant’s miller, said she felt proud after their PDO Aix-en-Provence was awarded at the NYIOOC.
“This award is a recognition of quality, knowledge and work. It’s my first time participating in the NYIOOC, and my oil has won a prize,” Cheylan said. “This is fantastic.”
She added that the award would make the brand more recognizable to consumers.
Part of what sets their oils apart is that Château Virant controls the whole process of creating their oil, from the grove to the mill.
Cheylan added that the company achieved a fantastic result with their Aglandau during the previous harvest.
“For the upcoming harvest, we’ll continue to select trees and varieties,” she said. “But this summer seems very dry, and olive trees need water to produce. The best water for the tree is water that comes from the sky. So let’s wait and see.”
Away from continental France, on the Mediterranean island of Corsica, Moulin Oltremonti earned a Gold Award for its Athea brand’s medium Taggiasca blend.
“We feel extremely happy to have our work and efforts recognized in the NYIOOC contest, and of course thrilled to win a Gold Award with our Athea this year,” Moulin Oltremonti co-owner Emilie Borel Berta told Olive Oil Times.
Borel Berta said their award-winning oil is made from a typical Corsican cultivar, which lends it a unique fruity flavor and makes it one of the best in the world.
Despite the success, she added that labor shortages were a problem during the previous harvest.
“Luckily, we have our own mill, which means that we can work from home. While my husband was at the mill day and night, I worked with the team in our olive groves,” she said.
Looking ahead to the upcoming harvest, Borel Berta concluded: “One big challenge will be the heat wave we are experiencing at the moment, which surely will be continuing this summer.”