L’Oro del Benàco (The Gold of Benàco), a competition dedicated to EVOOs from the area of Lake Garda, also known as Benaco, was held on June 11 by the Producers Association Olio Garda DOP, the organization that protects, safeguards and enhances the production of EVOOs certified with the Protected Denomination of Origin.
Olive production of Garda has unique features. Despite the position, not far from alpine glaciers, enclosed and protected by mountains on the north side and by moraine hills on the south, the largest lake of Italy has a great influence on the climate of its banks and it can be considered the heart of the northernmost area of olive oil production in the world.
Next to the 46th parallel, in the province of Trento, the Agraria Riva del Garda produces the DOP Garda Trentino Uliva, the winner of this year’s competition. If this name sounds familiar, that is probably because Uliva won the Gold Awards at the NYIOOC for two consecutive editions, 2014 and 2015. The Casaliva native variety gives life to a harmonious EVOO with hints of grass, basil and almond.
Agraria Riva del Garda is a cooperative founded in 1926 that connects 1,200 olive oil producers and over 300 winegrowers. It has managed a mill since 1965 and promotes not only high-quality products but also “a model of sustainable agriculture that pays attention to the environment and health,” the technical manager Furio Battelini said.
A longtime winemaker, since 2007 Battelini has been involved with the cooperative in the production of olive oil “for love,” he confessed. “We continue to study new systems of sustainable development. Despite the exceptional measures taken during the last crop year, not only the certified organic EVOO, but also the part of production not certified as organic is treated with natural methods, respectful of the territory,” he concluded.
Agraria Riva del Garda created a system to incentivize individual partner producers to maintain a high level of production: they are remunerated based on the quality of the olive oil they provide, which is periodically analyzed, and this practice allows a constantly growing quality.
The cooperative manages 60 percent of the olive oil production of the area but most of it is consumed by the farmers themselves and only 30 percent of the total production is reserved for a niche market.
The second excellent product on the podium of L’Oro del Benàco is the DOP Eastern Garda Fondo Brè of Azienda Agricola Marchese Guidalberto di Canossa. It is a beautiful estate in the hills of the eastern side of Lake Garda, whose territory covers two districts, Garda and Torri del Benaco, province of Verona. Of the 300 meters above sea level, about 27 acres are devoted to an olive grove of over 4,000 plants consisting mostly of Casaliva and some Trepp, Leccino and Pendolino.
Alessandra joined her father Guidalberto in managing the company less than a year ago and she is now proud to contribute to the family business a touch of youthful innovation. Her debut was immediately rewarded by the success in the competition with an harmonious EVOO characterized by mild fruitiness and hints of almond.
Azienda Agricola Marchese Guidalberto di Canossa keeps high standards with a new EVOO, the Cru Canossa 1077, whose bottle bears a label dedicated to the 900th anniversary of the death of Matilda of Tuscany, a famous ancestor who was a powerful feudal woman loved by her people.
“The Cru Canossais is the result of a careful selection of olives,” Alessandra told Olive Oil Times. “We selected only the plants on the hills, the ones closer to home and more exposed to the sun. We want our consumers to learn to appreciate excellence. They are close to our heart and our goal is to give them awareness in consumption. They have to understand which type of product they buy, recognizing quality and then claim it.”