Italian Producers of the World's Best Olive Oils Express Elation

NYIOOC award-winning olive oil producers reacted with elation to the news that their products were among the best in the world, just a year after one of the worst years on record.
Benedetta Stallone De Santis (left), producer of the NYIOOC award-winning Le Due Benedette Gianmorulo and Peragineto olive oils.
Apr. 21, 2016
Ylenia Granitto

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The win­ning gen­er­a­tion of Italian extra vir­gin olive oils has its roots in tra­di­tion and its head pointed to the future. The heart beats for EVOO of the very high­est qual­ity, in small niche pro­duc­tions and large man­u­fac­tur­ers with mod­ern and attrac­tive con­cepts aimed at inter­na­tional mar­kets.

This is a huge added value. I have received many phone calls of con­grat­u­la­tions.- Alessandro Donati, Doro83

The 2015/2016 har­vest sea­son has seen the resur­gence of Italy. After the annus hor­ri­bilis and one of the worst olive oil pro­duc­tion sea­sons ever in terms of qual­ity and quan­tity in 2014/2015, Italy has regained its lead­er­ship, win­ning more awards than any other coun­try at the 2016 New York International Olive Oil Competition.
See Also: This Year’s Best Italian Olive Oils
More than 820 brands from 26 nations around the world were eval­u­ated by a panel of super judges in the largest olive oil com­pe­ti­tion ever held. There were 184 sub­mis­sions from Italy, earn­ing 109 awards with a rate of suc­cess of 59 per­cent (47 per­cent in 2013 and 43 per­cent in 2014, both years sec­ond after Spain) and with 6 Best in Class, 75 Gold Awards and 28 Silver Awards, beat­ing the other nations in all cat­e­gories.

Spain came in sec­ond place, with 78 awards out of 157 sam­ples and a rate of suc­cess of 50 per­cent, fol­lowed by the United States which sub­mit­ted 121 entries and won 50 awards with a rate of suc­cess of 41 per­cent achiev­ing an excel­lent third place.

This time, the win­ningest coun­try is Italy,” announced Curtis Cord, pres­i­dent of the NYIOOC. A remark­able achieve­ment by Italian pro­duc­ers who suf­fered one of the worst har­vests in recent his­tory just a year ago.”

At the press con­fer­ence where this year’s win­ners were unveiled, were present Olivier & Co.‘s Rose Malindretos, the rep­re­sen­ta­tive for Il Fornacino which obtain a Gold Award, Amanda Kenny from Domenica Fiore, which won 3 Gold Awards, Lucia Verdacchi Pinelli of Fontantaro Estate, which obtained a Gold Award, Claire Treves Brezel of Casale Sonnino which won a Silver Award and Giuseppe Taibi with his Olio Taibi Nocellara del Belice which received a Silver Award.

This year the Italian pro­duc­tion of extra vir­gin olive oil not only returned to the usual amount but also reached excel­lent results in terms of qual­ity. It means that farm­ers were not dis­cour­aged and reacted to the pre­vi­ous year’s losses with even greater com­mit­ment and deter­mi­na­tion to tackle the new com­pli­ca­tions and obtain the best prod­ucts pos­si­ble.

Watching the press con­fer­ence broad­cast live in Italy at night and dis­cov­er­ing that we received the Gold award was an unex­pected and great sat­is­fac­tion, espe­cially since it was our sec­ond year of pro­duc­tion. For our show­case, this is a huge added value. I have received many phone calls of con­grat­u­la­tions,” revealed Alessandro Donati of Doro83.

The olive trees have grown on his fam­i­ly’s estate in Moricone (Latium) for gen­er­a­tions but they started this new line 14 months ago, in the midst of the ter­ri­ble har­vest in 2014.

We adapted to the crit­i­cal moment and we have tried to make the best of things,” Donati added. The pre­vi­ous year the fly was impos­si­ble to pre­vent, com­bined with fungi and mildews that destroyed up to 70 per­cent of the har­vest. This year finally the weather was fine, it was the per­fect sea­son. We mon­i­tored the fly with bio­dy­namic and used var­i­ous organic fer­til­iz­ers, and we have achieved this excel­lent goal.”

Piero Caruso, Le Colline Bio

Le Colline Bio had already been suc­cess­ful in the past years at NYIOOC. The owner, Piero Caruso, said that this suc­cess is due to years of expe­ri­ence. We are the third gen­er­a­tion of pro­duc­ers in Calabria, and a com­bi­na­tion of stud­ied details, like a per­fect prun­ing and the use of nat­ural treat­ments led to this great result.” Despite the fly that had under­mined the amount of fruit he could press, Caruso obtained a prod­uct of high qual­ity any­way. But this har­vest, favored by the right cli­mate and with a few pre­cau­tions, has been more than sat­is­fac­tory and we have the plea­sure of this great Silver Award,” said Caruso

Some man­u­fac­tur­ers reached their goals through the use and evo­lu­tion of the lat­est gen­er­a­tion of tech­nolo­gies, par­tic­u­larly when it came to the milling equip­ment:

Best in Class winner Flavia Paoletti for Verde del Colle

The Best in Class win­ner Verde del Colle from Tuscany is pro­duced with an ultra­mod­ern mill. We already won awards in pre­vi­ous edi­tions of the NYIOOC but this recog­ni­tion is the great­est reward we could obtain,” said Flavia Paoletti.

We use a mill with ver­ti­cal knead­ing and a tech­nol­ogy that allows us to work with reg­u­lated tem­per­a­tures,” she explained to OOT. This involves the need to oper­ate with low yields, which decrease with the reduc­tion of tem­per­a­tures.” After the har­vest, both man­ual and mechan­i­cal with facil­i­ta­tors, they deliver the olives to the mill within four hours. Different mono­va­ri­etal crush­ings are then assem­bled to give an excep­tional blend with a high con­tent of polyphe­nols.

Gran Pregio Bio producers Maria Caputo and Altomare Mauro

Altomare Mauro and Maria Caputo man­age an olive grove and an olive press in Molfetta (Apulia), where is pro­duced their Gran Pregio Bio. We are proud and grat­i­fied by this award. We already got a Gold Medal at the NYIOOC and this award con­firms our com­mit­ment to qual­ity. We have done a great job,” declared Altomare. This award will be a spring­board for the American mar­ket.” The pre­vi­ous year, even more dev­as­tat­ing for organic pro­duc­tion, did not intim­i­date them and they started to con­stantly mon­i­tored their olive grove. The excel­lent cli­mate this sea­son helped, but Altomare revealed that the great result is also due to the care­ful man­age­ment of his mod­ern mill which requires con­stant upgrades.

Fonte di Foiano

We are so glad of this Gold Award,” Paolo di Gaetano declared. The har­vest 2014 was the most dif­fi­cult ever. The last one was very easy to afford, since we had to face only a light drought and a small out­break of fly for which we used just one treat­ment.” The Fonte di Foiano olive groves are located on the Tuscany hills. The olives, partly from sec­u­lar plants, are deliv­ered to a new gen­er­a­tion mill which is con­stantly mod­i­fied and updated. The tech­no­log­i­cal power and the extrac­tion steps are crit­i­cal, accord­ing to di Gaetano. I think that they can impact the suc­cess of the extra vir­gin olive oil up to 80 per­cent,” he con­sid­ered.

Some man­u­fac­tur­ers apply meth­ods based on a sus­tain­abil­ity, inspired by tra­di­tion:

Le Due Benedette

Our small olive groves treated with tra­di­tional meth­ods rewarded us with those two great Gold Awards,” affirmed Benedetta Stallone De Santis of Le Due Benedetta from Apulia, which won two Golds with its Gianmorulo, an EVOO with a preva­lence of Ogliarola; and Peragineto, preva­lence of Coratina.

Scientific stud­ies that have found that the fly can­not see the white color and I found that the kaolin, that is white and very nat­ural, pro­tects more than all the other prod­ucts,” she revealed. In 2014, they com­pleted three spread­ings of kaolin and due to cold dur­ing the fruit set, an absence of pol­li­nat­ing insects, and hail before the har­vest they pro­duced only 1,500 liters. This year they reached 6,000 liters due to favor­able cli­matic con­di­tions, no droughts, and no rains at the wrong times. We are not only bio­log­i­cal but we com­pletely avoid the few per­mit­ted chem­i­cal prod­ucts, con­tin­u­ing the nat­ural and organic tra­di­tion of my grand­mother, which I have known and respected,” she affirmed. This har­vest we only needed an early spray­ing of kaolin because of a small out­break of fly in July, then the weather was good and we obtained these ambi­tious awards.”

Massimo D’Addario, an olive oil expert and son of the owner Marina Palusci, is part the fourth gen­er­a­tion of pro­duc­ers. It was the first time we par­tic­i­pated and we got this remark­able achieve­ment,” he said to OOT. Last year, despite the ter­ri­ble har­vest we did not give up, and despite the 60 per­cent drop, we pro­duced an excel­lent EVOO. This year we just had to irri­gate because it was very warm in Abruzzo.” D’addario explained that a good irri­ga­tion is needed to keep a good pulp-to-core ratio and to main­tain the fresh­ness of the scents that dis­tin­guishes their EVOO, man­u­fac­tured by a two-phases mill cold and not fil­tered.

Some pro­duc­ers gave a touch of cool con­tem­po­rane­ity to tra­di­tion, but did not miss the impor­tance of organic and sus­tain­able treat­ments.

The Borraccino Family of Oilala

Spiros Borraccino and his brother cre­ated the name Oilalà rework­ing the French word olalà’, that means awe and won­der. They used a bot­tle usu­ally ded­i­cated to spir­its with a cap­ti­vat­ing and inno­v­a­tive aes­thetic graph­ics that changes every year. We have 10 hectares of olive groves on the Adriatic coast of Apulia inher­ited from our grand­par­ents,” said Borraccino. We are happy and proud of this award. Since last year we have not been able to par­tic­i­pate because of the poor har­vest, we are so glad of the goal we reached this year. Our pro­duc­tion mainly points to for­eign mar­kets and this award con­sol­i­dates our rep­u­ta­tion.” After the pre­vi­ous har­vest, they started to mon­i­tor much more dili­gently, almost weekly, for the pres­ence of fly. Only a week in July made them fear the onset of the fly which turned out okay. Oilalà uses organic prod­uct although is not cer­ti­fied as organic and does not use chem­i­cal treat­ments when is not nec­es­sary.

The Agostini family of Sublimis

It is the first time that we par­tic­i­pated in the NYIOOC and we are so glad about this award and pres­tige that it give us at the inter­na­tional level, since in the last two years we are on the US mar­ket,” said Alfredo Agostini who won a Gold Award with Sublimis, that comes from an olive grove at 350 meters above sea level in the Marche region. During the 2014 har­vest, we had a 50 per­cent drop in quan­tity. This year we per­formed nat­ural pre­ven­tive treat­ments with cop­per for the con­ven­tional pro­duc­tion since we pre­fer to avoid chem­i­cal prod­ucts. But the olives were so healthy that no addi­tional treat­ments were needed and this has given great results.”

Costantino Russo, owns with his sis­ter, Rosa Russo, a farm near Sorrento where they pro­duce L’Arcangelo named for their father, with­out whom it would be impos­si­ble to pro­duce their EVOO, Costantino revealed. The Gold Award is an impor­tant recog­ni­tion of our com­mit­ment. Our olive groves, partly sec­u­lar, grow at 250 meters above the sea level in a lime­stone-clay ter­roir.” He bor­rowed from the world of wine a sys­tem of metic­u­lously sort­ing the olives on a sort­ing table. Last year they obtained only 20 per­cent of usual pro­duc­tion. In order to deal with any attack we have con­stantly mon­i­tored the fly. Although we are not cer­ti­fied as organic we use organic prod­ucts such as cop­per and lime and we spread them every 3 weeks and do the early har­vest in October. I really care about this award since it is pres­ti­gious and is the most impor­tant com­pe­ti­tion for extra vir­gin olive oil.”

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