As results from the world's most prestigious olive oil quality contest continue to unfold online, producers in Tuscany have already struck gold.
The long wait has finally ended as the first days of the 2020 NYIOOC World Olive Oil Competition have come to a close.
While farmers, producers and experts from all over the world will follow the competition as its results are unfolding this week, the first round of winners have already put the spotlight on some prominent Tuscan olive oil producers.
“We are used to following the NYIOOC award night every year,” Filippo Alampi, owner of organic-certified producer, Fattoria Ramerino, told Olive Oil Times. “This year, everything has to happen on the internet and it has been very rewarding to see the Gold Awards being given to both of the olive oils that we sent to the competition.”
Fattoria Ramerino picked up their Gold Award for Guadagnolo Primus.See more: More From the 2020 NYIOOC
“It is our historic blend,” Alampi said. “It has been our first olive oil to reach the market. Thanks to its quality, our company has been able to grow. It is an extra virgin olive oil made primarily from the Moraiolo cultivar blended with Frantoio, Leccino and Pendolino varieties.”
The other Ramerino production to win Gold was the Cultivar Frantoio, which came as the result of the company’s experience in the field.
“It is an oil entirely dedicated to a single cultivar,” Alampi said. “Still, it is a blend of individual olive processing sessions. We taste and evaluate the product of each pressing session and for this blend we chose only the oil that most characterizes the cultivar.”
Many of the high-quality olive oils produced in Tuscany are a result of the region’s historic culture, complete with specific harvesting and milling traditions.
However, for the Gold Award-winning extra virgin olive oil from Vazart & Sons, it took just three years to achieve such a prestigious award.
“Three years ago we found these olive trees completely abandoned. They had been left alone for almost 20 years,” Alexander Vazart, owner of a 5,000-tree farm near Florence, told Olive Oil Times.
“The first year we just harvested the little that was there, but we started working on them and pruning them,” he added. “We also had to face bad weather and a severe olive fruit fly infestation.”
Still after just three short years, the resulting oil has been catapulted onto the Official Index of the World’s Best Olive Oils.
“I had a bad experience with the fly, so we took olives only from those trees that were not touched by the insect,” Vazart said. “It meant we had to give up a portion of the production, but we still met our quality targets.”
The Vazart family harvested 500 kilograms (1,100 lbs) of olives per day during the 2019/20 harvest season.
“Every single night of the harvesting season, I would bring the olives to a dedicated oil mill myself and come back in later the night with the oil,” Vazart said.
The result of these long hours and hard work was an extra virgin olive oil that the judges said offered tasting sensations of herbs, fig leaf, pepper, radish and olive leaf.
Along with traditionally produced oils from the hallowed region, a super-intensive producer, the Olive Grove Partners, was also among the Gold Award winners at this year’s edition of the NYIOOC.
“We are very happy for the Gold Award, even more so considering that we began our activity just a few years ago, in 2017,” Andrea Sozzi Sabatini, owner of the company that produced Etrusco Sostenuto said.
“This award will help others to understand that super-intensive olive farming does not hinder the product quality,” Sabatini said. “Our Etrusco Sostenuto is a medium blended oil, its name comes from the Italian music notes known all over the world.”
Innovation is key to the farm, Sabatini, whose company has adopted robotic means and technology for many of its operations, said.
“Our experience shows that, in just a few years, a super-intensive farm can begin to produce not only good quantities of olive oil but also extra virgin olive oil of the best quality.”