Fairs, Competitions

Italian Producers Triumph at NYIOOC 2019

After a difficult harvest season, which saw production figures fall by 57 percent, Italian producers finally had a reason to celebrate. The results from the 2019 NYIOOC confirmed that quality remained as high as ever in Italy.

Domenica Fiore, represented by Amanda Kenny, earned seven Gold Awards at the 7th NYIOOC World Olive Oil Competition.
May. 14, 2019
By Ylenia Granitto
Domenica Fiore, represented by Amanda Kenny, earned seven Gold Awards at the 7th NYIOOC World Olive Oil Competition.

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The results of the sev­enth New York International Olive Oil Competition demon­strated the pro­fes­sion­al­ism and deter­mi­na­tion of Italian pro­duc­ers, who mas­ter­fully over­came all the obsta­cles posed by one of the most dif­fi­cult sea­sons for their olive groves in recent memory.

In order to get their sam­ples to New York and onto the palates of the judges, Italian pro­duc­ers first had to over­come a series of adverse weather events, includ­ing winter frosts, summer humid­ity and strong winds during the har­vest, as well as combat pests that came as a result of the humid­ity. These hard­ships resulted in a poor har­vest, in terms of quan­tity, but not in terms of qual­ity.

We have not been able to reach our usual amount of fruits har­vested. The bad season affected the quan­tity but not the qual­ity, and these awards con­firm that we did a great job of which I am really proud.- Francesca Boni, Traldi Farm

Italian pro­duc­ers sub­mit­ted the most entries to the com­pe­ti­tion, send­ing 223 sam­ples to be judged. From these, the inter­na­tional panel of the NYIOOC awarded 152 Italian extra virgin olive oils — the most awards col­lected by any coun­try.



 



Among the pro­duc­ers cel­e­brat­ing that night was Cesare Bianchini, whose Domenica Fiore enjoyed a record year, col­lect­ing seven awards. See more: NYIOOC 2019

“We are very happy,”  Bianchini said. “We won with all our labels, includ­ing a new prod­uct, ‘Novello di notte,’ a blend of Leccino and Frantoio har­vested at night.”

He explained that the team at Domenica Fiore had to be reac­tive and flex­i­ble in their har­vest­ing prac­tices this year in order to pre­vent any loss in polyphe­nols due to heavy rains.

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“We wanted to extract as much green and antiox­i­dants as pos­si­ble from our oils,” Bianchini said. “Therefore, since it was really warm, we also thought about trying to col­lect part of fruits at night.”

Cesare Bianchini and Frank Giustra at Domenica Fiore.

“It turned out to be dif­fi­cult but fun,” he added. “The final over­all result of our work is excel­lent, and we are excited about all these recog­ni­tions.”

Francesca Boni was also cel­e­brat­ing on Friday night, and saw the 2019 NYIOOC as a fur­ther con­fir­ma­tion of how the high­est qual­ity stan­dards have been main­tained, even through a chal­leng­ing season for Traldi Farm.

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“I am extremely pleased with this result, espe­cially since this season put our skills to a real test,” the pro­ducer from Lazio said, after taking home two Gold awards for her Athos and Exiumius brands.

Her olive trees are located on the hills of Tuscia, in Vetralla, where Boni and her team of pro­fes­sion­als expertly manage the autochtho­nous vari­ety Caninese, flanked by Frantoio, Moraiolo, Leccino and Pendolino.

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“We must con­sider that we have not been able to reach our usual amount of fruits har­vested,” she said. “However, the bad season affected the quan­tity but not the qual­ity, and these awards con­firm that we did a great job of which I am really proud.”

Costantino Russo, of Azienda Agricola Russo, spent most of the night awake wait­ing for the results too. The wait was well worth it, though, as he won a Gold award for Iobio, an organic medium Minucciola.

“How won­der­ful to receive this recognition,“he said. “With Iobio [a play on words between Io, which is Italian for ‘I’ and Bio, which means ‘organic’], we wanted to give a fur­ther mes­sage of sus­tain­abil­ity and respect for our beau­ti­ful ter­ri­tory.”

Russo, who has pro­duced other award-win­ning extra virgin olive oils from Minucciola in the Sorrento Peninsula, said that this par­tic­u­lar oil came from plants recently added to his land.

“Every time I came home, I used to walk through sec­u­lar aban­doned olive groves with a won­der­ful view of Capri and Mount Vesuvius,” he said. “Eventually, I was able to pur­chase those olive trees, and then, my father Arcangelo car­ried out reform prun­ing. After a year, they grad­u­ally started to bear fruits again, and this is the great final result of our hard, but worth­while work.”

Among the first time win­ners at this year’s edi­tion of the NYIOOC, was Pietro Pollizzi, who won a Gold award for his Enotre Berico oil. He told Olive Oil Times that the win was espe­cially sat­is­fy­ing due to the close bond his com­pany has with an American non-profit orga­ni­za­tion.

Pietro Pollizzi with his co-workers, Marco Veranda and Michele D’Alessandro.

 

“It’s incred­i­ble, and I can hardly believe it,” Pollizzi said. “We have a spe­cial bond with the U.S., as we col­lab­o­rate with the non-profit orga­ni­za­tion My City Kitchen, and finally this year we decided to par­tic­i­pate in the NYIOOC. This result is a recog­ni­tion of all the efforts made during a dif­fi­cult year.”

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Pollizzi man­ages mostly native vari­eties, such as Carolea, at his farm in Mesoraca, in the region of Calabria.

“I also have plants of Leccio del Corno that I used in a blend with the Coratina for my award-win­ning extra virgin olive oil,” he said. “I take care of my olive trees with a group of great co-work­ers, who have allowed me to end the season on a high note. I want to ded­i­cate this win to my ter­ri­tory, which still has such a lot of poten­tial and qual­ity oppor­tu­ni­ties.”

Antonello Fois, of Accademia Olearia, won a Gold award for his Riserva del Produttore. He told Olive Oil Times that he sees this award as a good oppor­tu­nity to begin doing busi­ness in the U.S.

“We are very happy, and we see this award as a wish to start work­ing with the U.S. market even more effec­tively,” Fois said after hear­ing the result.

Scattered over an area of 618 acres between Alghero and Sassari, Fois’s Riserva del Produttore con­sists of 80 per­cent Bosana olives blended with Semidana and Tonda di Cagliari this year. He said that these per­cent­ages may change based on the har­vest and also added that there are plans to extend the groves.

“We have a project to expand our olive groves over the next five years,” he said. “We will con­tinue to plant autochtho­nous vari­eties which are closely linked to and rep­re­sent our won­der­ful ter­ri­tory.”

Antonello Fois with his father, Giuseppe, and his brother, Alessandro

Farther south­west of Sardinia, on the island of Sicily, Calcedonio Calcara of Sciauro di Sicilia, which in local dialect means ‘scent of Sicily,’ cel­e­brated his Gold award for a del­i­cate ‘Nocerella del Belice.’

“We are really glad about this suc­cess, espe­cially since it was the first time that we par­tic­i­pated in the NYIOOC,” Calcara said. “This is a great acknowl­edge­ment of our ded­i­ca­tion and work for years.”

Calcara took the reins of his family com­pany, which is located in Castelvetrano, 15 years ago.

“I strongly believe that olive farm­ing can pro­vide a valu­able way of devel­op­ment,” he said. “In addi­tion to per­sonal sat­is­fac­tion, we believe that this award should give a boost to all those who are part of our ter­ri­tory, because qual­ity in agri­cul­ture gives extra­or­di­nary oppor­tu­ni­ties, espe­cially for young people, and this also makes us very proud.”

Calcara’s plants of Nocellara, Biancolilla and Cerasuola are at the heart of the PDO Valle del Belice Sciauro and the award-win­ning mono­va­ri­etal Magaria, which means ‘magic’ in the local dialect, and serves as a trib­ute to the enchant­ing qual­i­ties of his extra virgin olive oil.