By Sarah Schwager
Olive Oil Times Contributor | Reporting from Buenos Aires

Argentina cleaned up at the 4th International Olive Oil Challenge held in Mendoza last week.  The principal producer of extra virgin olive oil in South America and host of the event, Argentina took away 78 awards in the OLIVINUS 2010 competition, including 15 top “Gran Prestige Gold” Awards”.

Spain, Uruguay, Chile, Portugal and Israel were also big winners sharing 50 Gold Prestige medals and 40 Gold medals with Argentina. Uruguay won three Gran Prestige Gold Awards – meaning the oils surpassed 90 points on quality – and Spain won two.

Raul Castellani, President and Director General of OLIVINUS, the only international olive oil competition to be held in Latin America, told Olive Oil Times the quality of the oils presented before the tasting panels has been increasing with each edition of the competition and this year was no exception, with many great quality extra virgin olive oils and a good variety of cutting and blend oils too.

But he said the products put out by Argentina – a relative newcomer to the olive oil industry, providing just 1% of world consumption – are quite outstanding.

Raul Castellani

“The performance of the Argentinean companies was very good, representing all of the olive oil-producing provinces, and so Mendoza – which was the biggest winner – was very well matched by the provinces of Catamarca San Juan, La Rioja, Córdoba and Buenos Aires,” Mr. Castellani said.  “This shows that the various provinces of Argentina are very competitive at a global level.”

Mr. Castellani, recently bestowed the title of Wine and Olive Oil Ambassador in Jerusalem, said nine of the 15 olive oil producing countries entered in the competition did not reach the necessary extra virgin quality necessary to be considered by the tasting panels, that is, of 75 points or more, despite the excellent quality of many of the oils.  These were Italy, Greece, Lebanon, Croatia, Slovenia, South Africa, the United States, Peru and Malta.

Castellani said unfortunately regulation meant no more than half of the competing oils could win, so with the outstanding quality presented this year, some really good oils missed out on Gold ratings even though they complied with regulatory extra virgin quality.

The best rated extra virgin olive oil of the competition was a Coratina variety from Mendoza by Almaoliva S.A. which received 95 points once the scores were adjusted.

Second place also went to a Coratina oil from Uruguay made by Agroland S.A, third to Mendoza’s Aceite Santa Augusta and fourth place to a Blend by Spanish company SOCAPMA.

Seven oils managed 94 points or more. Castellani said therefore there was a big debate over which was the best.

The varietals of the olive oils to win the Gran Prestige Gold medal were: Coratina (3), Arauco (1), Arbequina (2), Blend (8), Frantoio (1), Nevadillo (1), Manzanilla (2) and Picual or Marteña (2).

Mr. Castellani said it was important to note that some awards were still forthcoming as there were a few oils that did not arrive in Mendoza until the last day of the competition due to difficulties with Customs. These include one from Israel and a few from Spain, Portugal and Chile.  He said while this could change the final result in these countries it would not change the results of those olive oils that had already won prizes.

OLIVINUS 2010 Gran Prestige Gold Award winners:

VarietyCompanyProduct NameCountry
AraucoTapizTapiz AraucoArgentina
ArbequinaSolfrut S.A.Oliovita Aceite de Oliva Virgen Extra ArbequinaArgentina
CoratinaAlmaoliva S.A.Almaoliva CoratinaArgentina
FargaEnrique A. TittarelliFinca Belvedere Frutado IntensoArgentina
FrantoioFamilia SottanoFamilia Sottano FrantoioArgentina
Manzanilla (tie)Familia ZuccardiFamilia Zuccardi Manzanilla 2010Argentina
Manzanilla (tie)Vargas Arizu S.A.Vistalba ManzanillaArgentina
NevadilloAceite Santa AugustaSanta Augusta NevadilloArgentina
BarneaPromas S.A.prOliva Varietal BarneaArgentina
NocellaraCompañía Olivícola Industrial de Pomán S.A.Triada Agua, cielo y tierra Aceite de Oliva Extra Virgen NocellaraArgentina
Changlot RealOlivícola Pedernal S.A.Dacia Aceite de Oliva Extra Virgen Changlot RealArgentina
ArbosanaMalbec de Los Andes S.A.Cuatro Familias ArbosanaArgentina
HojiblancaAroden S.A.T.Cladivm HojiblancaSpain
Picual (tie)Lam S.A.Eliá Aceite de Oliva Extra Virgen PicualArgentina
Picual (tie)Somacor S.A.De La Sierra PicualUruguay
Blend (tie)AndeolivaAndeoliva Aceite de Oliva Virgen Extra Blend (Manzanilla-Nevadillo-Farga-Arauco)Argentina
Blend (tie)Cuna de OlivaresVero Andino by Cuna de Olivares BlendArgentina
Blend (tie)Once OlivasOnce Olivas Aceite de Oliva Virgen Extra Blend (Manzanilla-Arbequina-Farga)Argentina
Blend (tie)Sociedad Coop. Agrícola Provincial Montañas Alicante “SOCAPMA”Lucentum Aceite de la Montaña de Mariola Virgen Extra Blend (Blanqueta-Manzanilla)Spain
Blend (tie)Agroland S.A.Colinas de Garzón Aceite de Oliva Extra Virgen Blend (Arbequina-Coratina)Uruguay

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