NYIOOC Winner Awarded for Olio Nuovo in Dalmatia

Denis Plastić reflects on a challenging harvest even as his Olio Nuovo is lauded at a local competition.
Denis Plastić,
By Nedjeljko Jusup
Dec. 14, 2022 15:00 UTC

Since they picked and trans­formed their olives in the past cou­ple of months, Croatian grow­ers have been enjoy­ing their Olio Nuovo.

Numerous local com­pe­ti­tions are being held in Istria and Dalmatia, the country’s two largest olive-grow­ing regions.

Prominent among them is the 14th Olio Nuovo and early-har­vest wine-tast­ing event held in Nadin, Dalmatia. Producers from around the coun­try sub­mit­ted 98 sam­ples to the event.

See Also:Producer Profiles

Being rec­og­nized for pro­duc­ing the best Olio Nuovo from Croatia’s autochtho­nous vari­eties is a mat­ter of pres­tige and a goal for some pro­duc­ers.

It was for me,” said Denis Plastić, 44, an olive grower and wine­maker from Nadin, who grows olives and vines on 300 hectares.

Plastić did not hide his sat­is­fac­tion with being awarded the best autochtho­nous extra vir­gin olive oil for his Oblica, which received a score of 104 of 110 points.

Indigenous vari­eties with the aim of pro­mot­ing them at this com­pe­ti­tion are par­tic­u­larly eval­u­ated,” said Tomislav Glavić, the orga­niz­ing com­mit­tee pres­i­dent.

Along with his mono­va­ri­etal, Plastić received a sec­ond award for his Oblica, Coratina and Lecin blend, which received 102.5 points.

His suc­cess is even more remark­able given the chal­lenges posed by cli­mate extremes this year.

Droughts, heat and fre­quent storms dried the soil dur­ing spring and sum­mer. The drought’s impact was so extreme that it looked like there would be no olives to har­vest until the first rains in September.

The sit­u­a­tion was espe­cially pro­nounced in the shal­low clay soils and melio­rated karst topog­ra­phy above Kraljevac, where Plastić leased 20 hectares of aban­doned state land 10 years ago and planted 4,800 olive trees of domes­tic and imported vari­eties.

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I watered the trees all July and August,” Plastić said in response to how he over­came the drought.

With the help of friends, he brought water from the Benkovac water­works in tankers on sev­eral occa­sions, which cost him around 25,000 kro­nor (€3,300). The rest of the total of 3,000 cubic meters was obtained from the Vlačina state reser­voir.

I don’t have an irri­ga­tion sys­tem, which was an addi­tional prob­lem with water­ing,” Plastić said. The grove was watered in a clas­sic way with hoses around each olive tree.”

With the help of his par­ents, wife and son, Plastić com­pleted all the nec­es­sary work in the groves in time for the har­vest.

We col­lected the olives on October 10,” he said. It turned out to be the opti­mal time for the vari­ety. The same day we trans­formed and prop­erly stored the oil.”

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While the hot and dry weather pre­sented plenty of chal­lenges, Plastić said that one of the few ben­e­fits was the lack of dis­ease that came with it.

When we don’t have Peacock’s eye (Spilocaea oleag­ina), which is a big prob­lem else­where,” he said. This year there also were no pests, not even the olive fruit fly, so all the fruits were healthy at the time of har­vest.

Plastić and other olive grow­ers in the area rarely spray olives, and when they do, they use only the prod­ucts per­mit­ted in organic agri­cul­ture.

From the begin­ning, his pro­duc­tion has been based on the prin­ci­ples of vir­gin soil, autochtho­nous vari­eties and organic agri­cul­ture.

Harvesting is done by hand, and the fruits are processed with the most mod­ern cold extrac­tion tech­nol­ogy by the multi-award-win­ning Nadin Oil Company, owned by Željko Vrsaljko.

The oil is stored in stain­less steel tanks before being pack­aged to sell in dark ceramic half-liter bot­tles.

The most impor­tant thing is that the prod­uct is ok,” Plastić said. We have feed­back, and none of the cus­tomers have neg­a­tive remarks.”

Along with the local com­pe­ti­tion, Plastić has enjoyed plenty of inter­na­tional suc­cess. His oils were awarded in Tokyo and at the 2022 NYIOOC World Olive Oil Competition, the world’s largest olive oil qual­ity com­pe­ti­tion.

Being the best at the biggest and most pres­ti­gious olive oil com­pe­ti­tion in the world is the dream of every olive grower,” Plastić said. His 2Storije brand was awarded Gold at both the 2021 and 2022 edi­tions of the NYIOOC.

Along with con­sci­en­tious work, Plastić has also been known to exper­i­ment. He is the first well-known pro­ducer to sea age his extra vir­gin olive oils in an under­wa­ter wine cel­lar near the island of Pag. He plans to repeat the process this year, tweak­ing the pack­ag­ing slightly to get an even bet­ter result.

Plastić said sea aging the olive oils increased their shelf-life, allow­ing the prod­ucts to main­tain their health ben­e­fits for longer than usual.

This year, Plastić pro­duced 1,500 liters of olive oil from his trees, not all of which have entered matu­rity. His groves are still recov­er­ing from a wild­fire two years ago, which dam­aged 1,200 trees and for which he is still wait­ing for com­pen­sa­tion from author­i­ties.

If he man­ages to sell each bot­tle for 100 kro­nor (€13.26), the rev­enue from 250 liters will only just cover his water­ing, fuel, milling, fer­til­iz­ers and pack­ag­ing costs.

However, Plastić and his fam­ily could not imag­ine doing any­thing else other than grow­ing olives. Although, they do plan to inte­grate their prod­uct more with local tourism.

He also plans to build a mini-tast­ing room and is restor­ing the 1,200-meter-long stone wall sur­round­ing the olive grove may also prove to be an attrac­tion.

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Plastić is cur­rently recon­struct­ing the wall using tra­di­tional meth­ods with funds from the European Union’s rural devel­op­ment fund.

When he fin­ishes the work, he will receive 700,000 kro­nor (€93,000), which will cover the costs of repair­ing the wall solely from nat­ural stone with­out any bind­ing mate­r­ial.

The con­struc­tion method was clas­si­fied as part of UNESCO’s intan­gi­ble world her­itage in 2018, with this type of wall mainly built in Spain, Cyprus, Greece, Italy, Croatia, Slovenia, France and Switzerland.

Who dares — wins,” con­cluded Plastić, quot­ing the slo­gan of the SAS, a branch of the British Special Forces.

He is also con­vinced that in time he will be able to solve his irri­ga­tion prob­lem, with­out which there is no seri­ous olive grow­ing.


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