A selection of extra virgin olive oils from 9 countries will be available for tasting at the extra virgin olive oil Savantes Programme to be held in three New Zealand cities next month – Blenheim 6-8 August, Napier 13-15 August and Auckland 19-21 August.

The International Savantes Programme was founded in 2001 and holds olive oil tastings in Spain, Italy, United Kingdom, South Africa, Australia and New Zealand. The three-day program covers  tasting olive oil, blending, culinary uses, health attributes and marketing. It culminates in a day of tasting selected extra virgin olive oils produced around the world this year.

The program will be presented by Simon Field, founder of Savantes and an olive grower from Victoria, Australia.  Feld has written the Olive Handbook, the Olive Oil Maker’s Handbook and the Olive Oil Tasters Companion.

Participants include producers, processors, traders, retailers, chefs, food media and consumers. Sessions are tailored for both new and experienced tasters.

The olive oils, selected with the assistance of olive oil expert Judy Ridgway, come from Chile, Croatia, France, Greece, Italy, Portugal and Spain. A selection of New Zealand and Australian new season olive oils will be added to the list.

Many of the overseas oils have won awards in 2010:

  • Rincon de La Subbetica from Spain won the first prize in the 2010 International Olive Council Mario Solinas Award – intense green fruitiness section. The oil also won a gold medal in the international division of the 2010 Los Angeles International Extra Virgin Olive Oil Competition.
  • Castilo de Canena won the international medium category in Los Angeles with their Family Reserve Blend. There will be two olive oils from Castilo de Canena at Savantes: Royale and Arbequina.
  • Melgarejo won a best of class award and a gold medal also in LA. Three Melgarejo olive oils will be tasted at Savantes: Frantoio, Arbequina and Gourmet.
  • Galantino Afforiato won a Gold Medal in the international delicate class at Los Angeles and a grand mention in the delicate class of the International Armonia Olive Oil Competition where olive oil is judged in the culinary context. Galantino Afforiato and their DOP Terra di Bari will be at Savantes New Zealand.
  • Portico de la Villa – from Manuel Montes Marin won a grand mention in the medium fruity class at the Armonia competition. It will be an oil featured at Savantes.

The overseas oils are from many of the regions where classic varietals of olive oil are produced. The selections from the Koroneiki variety from Greece include two oils where the same olives were processed at two different temperatures, showing the effect this has on the taste and quality of the final product.

There are more delicate oils from the classic varieties in Liguria, Italy and Provence, France. In contrast there are robust frantoio olive oils from Tuscany and tomato flavored ones from Sicily.

The Spanish contribution includes several Arbequina from Catalunya and the classic aromatic Picuals and Hojiblancas from Jaén and Malaga. Rincon de la Subbetica, from the Priego de Cordoba region in Southern Spain, has won accolades as one of the best olive oils in the world in recent years.

Many of these varietals available for tasting are grown in New Zealand, making possible a comparison of the effect of different climatic and seasonal conditions on the flavors of the extra virgin olive oils.

The selected oils also demonstrate a variety of innovative packaging and marketing concepts.

Participants in the programs, in addition to experiencing the range of extra virgin olive oils worldwide, will have the opportunity to be recognized as a Savante by completing a series of taste tests.

International bookings have been received from Singapore and Australia providing New Zealand participants with an added opportunity for networking.

For dates, programs, a list of selected olive oils and bookings, see the event website.

For further information contact Simon Field on +61 418 329 890 or email the organizer.

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