The Best Olive Oils

Italy Triumphs at 2016 NYIOOC

Italian producers came back from last year's disastrous harvest with a vengeance, winning more awards at the prestigious New York competition than any other country.

O&Co. representative Rose Malindretos (center) picked up a Gold Award for Il Fornacino at the New York International Olive Oil Competition on April 14, 2016. She is joined by panel member Paul Vossen (left) and NYIOOC president Curtis Cord, (Photo: NYIOOC)
Apr. 16, 2016
By Hannah Howard
O&Co. representative Rose Malindretos (center) picked up a Gold Award for Il Fornacino at the New York International Olive Oil Competition on April 14, 2016. She is joined by panel member Paul Vossen (left) and NYIOOC president Curtis Cord, (Photo: NYIOOC)

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Com­pli­menti, Italia! This year, Ital­ian olive oil swept the New York Inter­na­tional Olive Oil Com­pe­ti­tion (NYIOOC) with 109 awards, the most from any coun­try.

Twenty-six coun­tries from around the world sub­mit­ted olive oil to be tasted and eval­u­ated by the NYIOOC inter­na­tional panel of expert judges. This year’s com­pe­ti­tion marked the fourth annual NYIOOC and the largest inter­na­tional col­lec­tion of olive oils ever assem­bled. After Italy, Spain, took home the sec­ond high­est num­ber of awards, 78. The United States came in third place with 50.

A remark­able achieve­ment by Ital­ian pro­duc­ers who suf­fered one of the worst har­vests in recent his­tory just a year ago.- Cur­tis Cord, NYIOOC

From the incred­i­bly stiff com­pe­ti­tion, Italy’s olive oil pro­duc­ers emerged at the top. It was a remark­able achieve­ment by Ital­ian pro­duc­ers who suf­fered one of the worst har­vests in recent his­tory just a year ago,” said Cur­tis Cord, pres­i­dent of the NYIOOC.
See more: The Best Ital­ian Olive Oils for 2016
Dur­ing the 2014/2015 har­vest sea­son, Italy fell vic­tim to a bac­te­r­ial blight that destroyed around 40 per­fect of olive oil pro­duc­tion, crip­pling grow­ers. Many Ital­ian pro­duc­ers were not able to make any olive oil at all last sea­son.

Among them was Lucia Ver­dac­chi Pinelli, who makes extra vir­gin olive oil at Fonta­naro Estate in Umbria. Her oil took home a Sil­ver Award at the 2014 NYIOOC, but she and her part­ner were forced to bow out in 2015. Last year we did not pro­duce at all,” she said, because of the poor con­di­tions. It was so sad to let the fruits go unpicked.”

Fontanaro Estate producer Lucia Verdacchi Pinelli

The crip­pling har­vest caused a reduced Ital­ian pres­ence at NYIOOC with 100 entries com­pared to 141 in 2014. This year, Italy’s show­ing was stronger than ever. The coun­try sent nearly 200 brands to com­pete for the cov­eted Sil­ver, Gold and Best in Class awards — a strong sign of resur­gence. 58 per­cent of Ital­ian entrants received awards — the high­est suc­cess rate among the major par­tic­i­pat­ing coun­tries.

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We are in love with every­thing about olive oil,” said Pinelli, whose fam­ily has been pro­duc­ing oil for five gen­er­a­tions in the hills sur­round­ing the Trasi­meno. At their own mill, olives are cold pressed within three hours of the olive pick­ing to guar­an­tee the very best qual­ity. For us, olive oil is life.”

Her family’s ded­i­ca­tion and her olive oil’s sky-high qual­ity earned Fonta­naro a Gold Award this year. I am so pleased,” she said, beam­ing with joy and pride. Our friends know what we do, our fam­ily knows, but what I find is amaz­ing is that the knowl­edge out­side Italy is grow­ing, thanks to the NYIOOC.”

Claire Treves Brezel for Azienda Agricola Sonnino-Treves

Six Ital­ian extra-vir­gins won the highly cov­eted Best in Class awards: 75 were awarded Gold, and 28 received Sil­ver. Among the best in class win­ners were Colle del Giachi’s D.O.P. Chi­anti Clas­sico, from olives typ­i­cally found high in the Chi­anti hills. The oil is well-bal­anced, with intense golden-green color and super low acid­ity.

La Bandiera, crafted in the wine-grow­ing area of Bol­gheri on the coast of Tus­cany, Italy, also won a best in class this year. It is a sin­gle-estate, organic olive oil from three vari­etals with plenty of robust, full-bod­ied fla­vor. They were joined by many more.

The full list of win­ners can be found at the Best Olive Oils web­site, and will be avail­able at the new Best New Olive Oils Mar­ket­place in the upcom­ing weeks.

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