Italian Brands Succeed Again in World Competition

The producers behind some of the most awarded brands are celebrating repeat wins at the world's most prestigious olive oil quality contest.
Crafting Villa Marga at Frantoio Franci
Jun. 5, 2020
Paolo DeAndreis

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As the dust set­tles on the 2020 NYIOOC World Olive Oil Competition, Italian pro­duc­ers are cel­e­brat­ing 139 of the indus­try’s most cov­eted qual­ity awards.

While many pro­duc­ers cel­e­brated their first-ever dis­tinc­tion, oth­ers achieved another win in a string of suc­cesses.

Every year is dif­fer­ent, so it is cru­cial to be able to select the olives that in a given year can con­tribute to a known and trusted high-qual­ity prod­uct.- Paolo Pruneti, co-owner of Pruneti Farm

For the sixth year in a row, the Tuscan pro­ducer Frantoio Franci has been awarded for their Villa Marga brand. Since 2015, the medium blend has won a total of five Gold awards and one Silver at the com­pe­ti­tion.

Villa Magra is the first oil that our fam­ily began pack­ag­ing and sell­ing back in the 1950s,” owner Giorgio Franci told Olive Oil Times. It is a tra­di­tional blend of the most known Tuscan olive vari­eties, mostly Frantoio, Moraiolo and Leccino.”

See Also: Special Coverage: 2020 NYIOOC

It brings with it bit­ter and spicy notes, is present and defined as well as long and per­sis­tent, with the tra­di­tional scents and tastes of our ter­ri­tory,” he added.

The pro­duc­tion pro­to­col of the com­pany demands a care­ful selec­tion of olives both before and after the trans­for­ma­tion pro­ce­dures.

We select the best olives in our groves,” Franci said, and then, after the oil has been pro­duced, we pro­ceed with blind tast­ing ses­sions, which allow us to give birth to Villa Magra by using only the best lots.”

The goal is to offer a prod­uct that keeps intact its qual­i­ties and dis­tinc­tive tast­ing notes over the years.

What may actu­ally change each sea­son with this pro­to­col is the vol­ume of the oil pro­duced, never its qual­ity,” he said.

The 2020 NYIOOC judges noted that the oil had tast­ing sen­sa­tions of green pep­per, green tomato, tomato leaf and arti­choke.

Another multi-Gold Award win­ning oil to repeat its suc­cess at the 2020 NYIOOC was the Tuscany-based Pruneti Farm.

Paolo and Gionni Pruneti favor bio­di­ver­sity in their olive groves.

Their robust Frantoio mono­va­ri­etal won its fifth con­sec­u­tive Gold Award at the com­pe­ti­tion and is the direct result of an ancient olive oil pro­duc­ing cul­ture, co-owner Paolo Pruneti said.

My brother and I nur­ture the pas­sion for our ter­ri­tory as our ances­tors did before us,” he said. We want to let peo­ple know and taste the unique scents of these lands through our olive oil.”

With a farm com­posed of more than 30,000 trees in the heart of the Chianti region, the Pruneti fam­ily can afford to be highly selec­tive and only choose the olives that meet a spe­cific set of char­ac­ter­is­tics.

See Also: The Best Italian Olive Oils

We are in the con­di­tion to agro­nom­i­cally con­trol the olives and gain a deep under­stand­ing of how they change sea­son after sea­son,” Pruneti said. It is the fun of agri­cul­ture. Every year is dif­fer­ent, so it is cru­cial to be able to select the olives that in a given year can con­tribute to a known and trusted high-qual­ity prod­uct.”

While not every pro­ducer has the estab­lished legacy of the Prunetis or Francis, this year’s results mean that some pro­duc­ers are now well on their way.

For the sec­ond year in a row, Umbrian pro­ducer I Potti De Fratini was awarded Gold for their Gli Oliveti del Poggio SAS, an oil made from solely from the Moraiolo cul­ti­var and crafted using the lat­est agri­cul­tural tech­nolo­gies.

Our extra vir­gin olive oil is an organic prod­uct that comes from a chal­leng­ing cul­ti­var,” Matteo Fratini, owner of the farm, told Olive Oil Times. Moraiolo trees require spe­cific prun­ing works. They do not carry many fruits and our har­vest­ing is done by hand.”

On top of that, Moraiolo yields per kilo­gram are usu­ally lower than those of other cul­ti­vars.

The most del­i­cate moment of the year is the olive har­vest,” Fratini said. These days, we focus on hand­pick­ing the olives while adher­ing to a strict sched­ule. For instance, if we stop har­vest­ing at 4 p.m. our olives will be in our oil mill soon after, and at 5:30 p.m. we would already have our oil, fil­tered with a card­board fil­ter and then stocked in our steel tanks.”

Soc. Agr. Vernèra from Italy won its third con­sec­u­tive Gold Award at the NYIOOC. This year’s win was for Le Case di Lavinia, an organic medium-inten­sity Tonda Iblea mono­va­ri­etal.

Every year is a new chal­lenge. But, in the end, our Tonda Iblea always rewards us!” com­pany owner Mariagrazia Spanó said when she learned of the win.

The com­pany pro­duced 3,000 liters of organic extra vir­gin olive oil from hand-har­vested Tonda Iblea olives this year.

All of the 2020 award win­ners are pre­sented on the Official Index of the World’s Best Olive Oils.

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