Fairs, Competitions

Croatian Brands Win Big in New York

Croatian olive oils came in fourth after Italy, Spain and the United States, a significant result for a small country with a modest production.

Mirjana Kanzler accepted a Best in Class Award for Šoltansko Maslinovo Ulje at the 2019 NYIOOC World Olive Oil Competition
May. 28, 2019
By Isabel Putinja
Mirjana Kanzler accepted a Best in Class Award for Šoltansko Maslinovo Ulje at the 2019 NYIOOC World Olive Oil Competition

Recent News

The number of entries to the New York International Olive Oil Competition (NYIOOC) from Croatia has been increas­ing steadily with each year.

At NYIOOC 2019, a record 61 entries were received from Croatian olive oil pro­duc­ers, with 51 win­ning awards: a suc­cess rate of 84 per­cent.

Obviously, we are very proud of the excel­lent result we got on our very first attempt at the world’s most pres­ti­gious olive oil com­pe­ti­tion.- Karmino Beletić, Al Torcio

Croatian pro­duc­ers came fourth in the award stand­ings after Italy, Spain and the United States (with one award more than Croatia), a sig­nif­i­cant result for a small coun­try with a modest annual pro­duc­tion.

Of the 51 Croatian win­ning olive oils, 32 were awarded Gold Awards and 18 Silver, while one was awarded Best in Class.

See more: The Best Olive Oils from Croatia

Forty-five of the 51 win­ning oils orig­i­nate from the penin­sula of Istria in the North Adriatic Sea, an olive-grow­ing region that has been gain­ing recog­ni­tion for its high-qual­ity olive oil with each pass­ing year.

Advertisement

Croatia’s other main olive region is Dalmatia, the region stretch­ing south­wards along Croatia’s Adriatic coast­line and includes its neigh­bor­ing islands.

The biggest winner was Agrolaguna, a large wine and olive oil pro­ducer in Istria known for its Ol Istria range of olive oils, which took home three Golds and a Silver at NYIOOC 2019.



 



Also notable was the Best in Class that went to the organic Šoltansko Maslinovo Ulje (olive oil from the island of Šolta) pro­duced from the native Šoltanka cul­ti­var (also known as Levantinka) by a col­lec­tive of pro­duc­ers from the island.

Olive oil from Šolta island is one of the five Croatian olive oils enjoy­ing Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) status at the European Union level, along with other pro­tected oils from the islands of Cres, Krk and Korčula.

Advertisement

Earlier this year, a multi-coun­try PDO was granted to olive oil from the penin­sula of Istria, which is shared geo­graph­i­cally by both Croatia and Slovenia.

Among the first-time entries at NYIOOC 2019 from Croatia was ŽŽ Zdrava Hrana, a mono­va­ri­etal Oblica native to Dalmatia that was rec­og­nized for its high qual­ity with a Gold Award.

Advertisement

“We were very happy and proud to win Gold because we invested a lot of love and effort into the pro­duc­tion of our olive oil. We con­sider NYIOOC to be one of the most impor­tant and most pres­ti­gious world­wide com­pe­ti­tions of olive oil,” Žarko Željko said of the win.

Željko’s 15-acre organic olive farm of 450 olive trees is located in Selca, in the south-east­ern corner of the island of Brač, which has a long his­tory of olive cul­ti­va­tion.

“The oil is made of olives cul­ti­vated in unpol­luted soil,” he said. “Grass and weeds are removed man­u­ally and sheep graze on the grass and fer­til­ize the soil nat­u­rally. I don’t use chem­i­cal fer­til­iz­ers.”

“Harvesting is done man­u­ally and press­ing com­mences only a few hours after har­vest in order to pre­serve all the fla­vors and aromas of the olives,” he added. “I use no preser­v­a­tives, addi­tives, col­orants or flavor enhancers. This is a pure whole food.”

Željko care­fully super­vises all aspects of pro­duc­tion and pro­cess­ing to ensure a qual­ity prod­uct and is sat­is­fied with results.

“The con­tent of oleic acid and per­ox­ide value of our oil is much lower than required for a supe­rior qual­ity olive oil,” he said. “This is the result of doing every­thing man­u­ally with­out assis­tance of any machin­ery, and giving all my love and affec­tion to my olive trees. Every drop of olive oil con­tains the aroma and flavor of the olives from the island of Brač.”

Istrian family pro­duc­ers Al Torcio were also first-time par­tic­i­pants at NYIOOC, win­ning two Golds and a Silver Award. They received Golds for their mono­va­ri­etals Al Torcio Frantoio and Al Torcio Itrana, and a Silver for their Al Torcio Rosulja, also a monocul­ti­var.

Advertisement

“We are a small family-owned pro­ducer from north-west­ern Istria,” Karmino Beletić told Olive Oil Times. “We’re con­tin­u­ing the 25-year project of my father, Tranquilino, who passed away three years ago and whose idea it was to create a bou­tique olive mill, which will pro­duce only the best olive oils.”

“After win­ning gold medals at com­pe­ti­tions in Europe, includ­ing Arezzo, Rome, Hamburg, Paris, Zagreb, and Split, we decided to try the American con­ti­nent,” he added.

The fam­i­ly’s 1,800 olive trees grow in five dif­fer­ent groves in Novigrad, on hills over­look­ing the Adriatic Sea.

“This is very impor­tant, as the winds from the sea bring salin­ity, which acts as a nat­ural puri­fier,” Beletić said. “We use a spe­cial self-pro­duced fer­til­izer obtained from a fer­mented olive mill pomace. Olives are picked exclu­sively by hand and milled within a few hours in our own olive mill.”

The family pro­duces eight dif­fer­ent single cul­ti­vars: Leccino, Pendolino, Frantoio, Rosulja, Itrana, Ascolana, Bjelica, Moraiolo, as well as a blend.

“Obviously, we are very proud of the excel­lent result we got on our very first attempt at the world’s most pres­ti­gious olive oil com­pe­ti­tion,” Beletić said of the win. “This is very impor­tant as we would like to offer our extra virgin olive oil to the American market which is very dif­fer­ent to the European one.”

Another new­comer to NYIOOC to win Gold was the Bodis family from South Istria.

“We are a small family pro­ducer who started this olive adven­ture along­side our suc­cess­ful tra­di­tional bee­keep­ing,” Ana Bodis said. “Our organ­i­cally grown olives are sur­rounded by forests and we keep our bees in the olive grove where we also find extra­or­di­nary bio­di­ver­sity that includes lots of insects that are preda­tors for olive pests.”

The fam­i­ly’s gold-win­ning name­sake Bodis is an organic blend of the Leccino, Pendolino, Buža and Istrian Bjelica vari­eties.

“This was our first time par­tic­i­pat­ing in NYIOOC,” Bodis added. “We were pleas­antly sur­prised because win­ning a prize with so much com­pe­ti­tion is a great achieve­ment for us. It’s con­fir­ma­tion that we are moving in the right direc­tion and gives us the moti­va­tion to move for­ward.”