With the historically poor harvest season behind them, Greek producers who managed a win in New York are setting their sights on brand building and achieving consistent quality.
It was an evening to remember in New York’s East Village, where the results of the 2019 NYIOOC were announced last month.
The press conference was streamed live for everybody to watch, drawing the attention of thousands worldwide. Among more than 900 participants from virtually every corner of the olive oil world, 109 producers from Greece showcased their finest extra virgin olive oils and won 35 awards in total, 18 Gold and 17 Silver.
This was a year where our passionate commitment to quality and thinking outside of the box had to come into play to overcome the many obstacles that were presented to us.
However, Greek producers won fewer awards than last year, when they took home 55 awards, likely reflecting this season’s unfavorable conditions and small yield.See more: NYIOOC 2019 Special Coverage
Papadopoulos Olive Oil Mill, based near Ancient Olympia, returned home with three prizes, one Gold Award for their Mythocia Olympia PGI Organic medium blend and two Silver Awards for their Mediterre Alea Organic and Mythocia Omphacium made from a delicate Olympia variety.
“Our knowledge through education, our love for the fruit and our passion to produce new flavors and rich aromas are the three main reasons for trying hard each year to extract high quality olive oil,” Eva Papadopoulos told Olive Oil Times.
“To be honest, NYIOOC is the best olive oil competition worldwide, bringing together the highest standards of integrity and professionalism in awarding medals to the best olive oils from around the globe,” she added.
The company also dared to diversify and make olive oil from varieties other than Koroneiki, such as Kolireiki, Menoutiana and Mpotsikoelia, which enhanced the organoleptic characteristics of their extra virgins.
Papadopoulos also made clear that the season was difficult and that the precise cultivation and the “careful and cautious” production method enabled them to be successful in the competition.
She also said that, starting next year, their products will be available under the Mediterre brand name, a Swiss company of organic Mediterranean products.
Laconiko, from southern Greece, stuck with tradition and tucked away another Gold Award this year for its extra virgin made from medium Koroneiki. Diamantis and Dino Pierrakos, the owners, were enthusiastic in describing their win to Olive Oil Times.
“It is the Oscars in the olive oil world, due to the exposure, the high standards and quality of the judges it offers,” Pierrakos said.
They noted that this is the sixth consecutive year in which they have been recognized and received an award in the NYIOOC World Olive Oil Competition, but they too had a challenging season and many obstacles to overcome to be able to present an extra virgin olive oil of really high standards.
“This was a year where our passionate commitment to quality and thinking outside of the box had to come into play to overcome the many obstacles that were presented to us, in not making a quality olive oil in only a single batch but making a quality oil in our overall production,” they said.
Mer Des Oliviers De Delphes, from Central Greece, earned a Gold Award for their extra virgin olive oil made from a delicate Amfissis variety.
“Our olive oil comes from the Delphi area made from olives of the Amfissis variety. It has a strong, fruity aroma with a soft taste without being spicy, and a special aftertaste due to the Delphi land,” they told Olive Oil Times.
“We were the first to promote the monovarietal olive oil of our area. Our aspiration is to put the olive oil from Delphi on the world map of quality olive oils,” they added.
They also had something to say about the NYIOOC and the importance of their prize.
“The last time that we participated in the NYIOOC was back in 2017 when we won the Silver Award,” they said. “The Gold Award we got now made us very happy, because we know the potential of our olive oil.”
“It is widely known that NYIOOC is the best in the world, and in this sense our award is of great value and recognition,” they added. “Being on the Best Olive Oils portal is a constant promotion of our olive oil in the international markets, increasing its prestige.”
“What is interesting about our company and different from some of the others, is that our incredibly strong determination and focus on producing high quality olive oil never ends,” Peter Liokareas said.
He also acknowledged that this season was precarious and more hard work was required to get olive oil of top quality.
“This year was a difficult year for many countries, including Greece,” Liokareas said. “I was shocked at what I saw when I traveled through southern Greece, and more specifically in Messinia and Laconia first in August and then again in October and November.”
“But at the same time, I also felt a great sense of pride for this region of Greece from where we are,” he added. “To see a region that struggles so hard economically in difficult times, not give up on the production of this great product that we are known for.”
He then continued, “the NYIOOC is the largest competition in the world. It may be one of the most difficult competitions to win an award in. For us, it is the most prestigious.”
Comments and feelings of winners from Greece continued to pour in.
For Olympian Green, winner of a Gold Award for their extra virgin made from Koroneiki olives, the satisfaction was immense.
“It is a great honor and we are extremely proud of the award,” Tammy Karambelas, the sales support manager, said. “Our modern mill with its hi-tech machinery and the innovative solutions we apply have made us pioneers in the sector of quality olive oil. The prize proves that our attention to the whole production process from the tree to the shelf is on the right track.”
Hellenic Agricultural Enterprises, from Lesvos, were again on target, receiving a Gold Award for their extra virgin olive oil made from Kolovi olives, and now they have expanded their trophy case by also winning a Silver Award for their organic extra virgin.
“We are very excited that our ACAIA and ACAIA organic brands were once again distinguished at this renowned competition,” Ellie Tragakes, the managing director, said. “Every year we work hard to create olive oils that are of the highest quality, and this is the fifth year that NYIOOC acknowledges our olive oils as being among the best in the world.”
“We will continue to work hard to produce the highest quality olive oil so that we may also bring recognition to Lesvos, our home island in the Aegean,” she added.
Eftychios Androulakis of Pamako spoke about their Gold Award for their monovarietal Mountain Bio made from the Tsounati variety.
“The last four years, we have managed to make excellent olive oils through constant experimentation,” he said. “We don’t buy olives from anyone else and we don’t put other producers in our line. So it’s extremely difficult to produce a great organic extra virgin olive oil each year.”
“By experimenting and closely observing how every season is going to end, we choose our next steps and we always prepare for the worst-case scenario,” he added. “Even now, we prepare for the next season experiments and new ways of making a better olive oil.”