From the renowned regions of Umbria and Tuscany to lesser-known terroirs, Italian producers from the entire country were awarded at the world's most prestigious olive oil quality contest.
Part of our continuing coverage of the 2020 NYIOOC World Olive Oil Competition.
The best Italian olive oils do not always come from the large farms of the south nor from the beautiful hills of central Italy.
Last season was a hard one for northern Italy… We are flattered by such an award after such a challenging season.
The olive oil is named after the geographic parallel where the olives are grown. It is a product of many small producers who gather in a cooperative business, Agraria Riva del Garda.
46° Parallelo was recognized for its organic origin and its tasting sensations of herbs, green almond, mint, fennel and green fruit. Still, its world-class quality did not come easy at the end of a turbulent year for Italian agriculture.
Find the world's best olive oils near you.
“Last season was a hard one for northern Italy, with a record fruit drop in July that stole almost 80 percent of the total yield,” Furio Batterini, who leads Agraria’s technical unit, told Olive Oil Times.
“Then came the olive fruit fly,” he added. “We do not usually get the fly as much as elsewhere, since our particular lakeside climate mixes with the colder northern air, but when just a few olives remain on the trees, that is when the fly can hurt more.”
Almost 1,000 associated farmers grow and harvest their olives in an area covering 620 acres, where they fight the olive fly with biological traps.
“We are flattered by such an award after such a challenging season,” Batterini said.
Another Italian producer coming from an unusual location for world-class olive oils is Palazzo di Varignana. Close to Bologna, in the Emilia-Romagna region, the company’s organic extra virgin olive oils won two Gold Awards at the 2020 NYIOOC.
“Vargnano and Claterna are two extra virgin olive oils that come from the typical and traditional local olive varieties, Nostrana and Ghiacciola,” Chiara Del Vecchio, the company’s olive oil project manager, told Olive Oil Times.
“Since 2015, we began working to restore and recover the olive groves that once filled these lands, at least until the second half of the eighteenth century, when adverse climate conditions put a halt to that production,” she added. “We founded our company focusing on innovative procedures and business, and now manage groves on more than 320,000 acres.”
The company ambitions include extending the area dedicated to the olive trees and a private oil mill that, pending authorization, should be completed by 2021.
Farther south, in the heart of the Italian peninsula, the Umbrian producer Farchioni Olii won three Gold Awards
“We are very satisfied with these results,” owner Marco Farchioni told Olive Oil Times. “Also because we contribute to the confirmation of the world-class qualities of Italian olive oil.”
Farchioni Olii is a farm whose tradition dates back to 1780, when Marco’s ancestors began replacing the fruits of their territory with olive oil, wine, beer and flour.
The three olive oils that conquered the palate of this year’s panel of judges included Selezione oli del Mediterraneo, an extra virgin olive oil born from the experience of the growers in selecting the best olive varieties of the season; Collezione di Famiglia, a monovarietal Coratina; and DOP Umbria Colli Martani, made of olives coming “from the dry and stony grounds of Umbria,” Farchioni said. It is an extra virgin olive oil crafted from four cultivars: Frantoio, Leccino, Moraiolo and San Felice.
In nearby Tuscany, Entimio Tuscan won a Silver Award for its Entimio Distinto, a blend made mostly out of Frantoio olives, with some Leccino and Moraiolo too. The oil is produced by Fattoria Bini, a farm in the Chianti area of Tuscany, whose activities date back centuries.
“We partnered with a traditional, historical olive oil producer that specialized in selecting the best olives needed to produce world-class olive oils” Daniele Santini, owner of the Entimio, told Olive Oil Times. “Even with a very challenging season for olives, Entimio Distinto was recognized for its high polyphenol content and very special taste.”
To the 2020 NYIOOC judgment panel, the Tuscan extra virgin olive oil offers tasting sensations of artichoke, almond, walnut, pepper and green pepper.