Europe

More Greek Winners Reflect on Their NYIOOC Awards

Greek producers like these NYIOOC winners have studied modern olive oil production methods and engaged in the persistent efforts necessary to make some of the world's best olive oils.

May. 10, 2018
By Lisa Radinovsky

Recent News

This year, Greek extra virgin olive oils (EVOOs) cap­tured 31 Gold Awards and 23 Silvers in a tough com­pe­ti­tion among an aston­ish­ing 1,000 entries from 27 coun­tries at the NYIOOC World Olive Oil Competition (NYIOOC). Several of the top Greek win­ners dis­cussed what their awards meant to them and how they man­aged to pro­duce such excel­lent EVOOs, show­cas­ing the merits of a number of dif­fer­ent Greek cul­ti­vars.

It was my first year using a modern cold press facil­ity. And the stel­lar results show it. It’s a dif­fer­ent EVOO – there’s no going back now.- Konstantin N. Kokkolis, Antheion

The lead­ing Greek winner at the 2018 NYIOOC was Papadopoulos Olive Oil Mill, which took home four Gold Awards and one Silver. Konstantinos Papadopoulos told Olive Oil Times that he and his team “feel proud and happy about achiev­ing our goals.” He explained this year’s phe­nom­e­nal suc­cess as the result of lessons learned during the pre­vi­ous “really dif­fi­cult year,” when bad weather reduced “the qual­ity and the quan­tity in Greece.” Their response: per­sis­tence and care­ful atten­tion to detail, “focus­ing on the best meth­ods of cul­ti­va­tion and pro­duc­tion in our olive oil mill, result­ing in one of the high­est qual­ity extra virgin olive oils world­wide.”
See more: The Best Olive Oils from Greece
Papadopoulos Olive Oil Mill won Golds for Mythocia Chef’s Exclusive and Mythocia Olympia PGI and a Silver for Mythocia Olympia PGI Organic — all medium inten­sity Koroneiki EVOOs — plus two more Golds for Omphacium (robust inten­sity) and Omphacium Organic (medium inten­sity) from the less common Olympia vari­ety (also known as Nemoutiana, but renamed for their unique loca­tion near ancient Olympia).

Papadopoulos was pleased that his com­pany had suc­ceeded in “bring­ing to light the qual­ity char­ac­ter­is­tics of our region, ancient Olympia. It is some­thing that we have been trying to do for many years.” They entered more EVOOs in the NYIOOC than in any other com­pe­ti­tion this year, seek­ing “recog­ni­tion of our prod­ucts with the guar­an­tee of this most rec­og­nized com­pe­ti­tion.”

The team at Oliorama also pays “care­ful atten­tion to all stages of pro­duc­tion, with no com­pro­mise on qual­ity,” demon­strat­ing “ded­i­ca­tion and per­sis­tence to reach our ulti­mate goal to be amongst the best in the world,” accord­ing to Maria Spiliakopoulou. The result: two Gold Awards at the NYIOOC, one for Oliorama Exclusive PGI Olympia, a medium inten­sity Koroneiki, and another for the organic ver­sion, Oliorama Exclusive Bio PGI Olympia.

Another olive oil pro­ducer from the region of ancient Olympia, George Goutis, pointed out that “when you try hard, you look for recog­ni­tion among the best.” He got it with a Gold Award for Goutis Estate Bitter Gray, a medium inten­sity Nemoutiana, and a Silver for Goutis Estate Fresh, a medium inten­sity Koroneiki. Goutis described a bet he made with a friend who worked as a phar­ma­cist in Germany and “decided to return to his moth­er­land, Greece and try making a good wine.” His friend man­aged “to pro­duce one of the best wines in Greece.” Goutis bet that he could “pro­duce one of the best EVOOs in Greece and — why not — around the world. I think that we both won the bet.”

Advertisement

Representatives from Papadopoulos Olive Oil Mill and freinds at NYIOOC2018

Dimitris Tsarpalis’s par­ents lacked such aspi­ra­tions, simply pro­duc­ing the family’s olive oil in the tra­di­tional way. It was up to their son to learn the modern meth­ods that yield higher qual­ity, and then con­vince the most open-minded farm­ers of Sparta to try new things. “There’s a never-ending story, each time, to con­vince them to do it this way: don’t use sacks, use bas­kets; don’t leave it until tomor­row, no matter how tired you are; go to the mill the same day.” And har­vest at the begin­ning of October, as soon as the nearby mill opens, to max­i­mize the healthy phe­no­lic con­tent. Finally, the farm­ers agreed, with impres­sive results: most recently, Gold Awards at NYIOOC for Sparta Groves EVOO, a medium inten­sity Athinolia, and Sparta Groves Organic, a del­i­cate Athinolia.

“This was the result of count­less hours of plan­ning and hard work. Needless to say, I am both excited and hon­ored,” said Konstantin N. Kokkolis on his web­site. The pro­ducer from Kefalonia who won a Gold Award for his Antheion brand added, “To be honest, it was my first year using a modern cold press facil­ity. And the stel­lar results show it. It’s a dif­fer­ent EVOO — there’s no going back now. The olive in Kefalonia has a lot of poten­tial, and I believe this poten­tial is being reached and can get even better.”

Considering her­self an olive farmer more than an exporter, Evi Psounou Prodromou of Yanni’s Olive Grove has also learned all about modern meth­ods. She believes “the best EVOO comes from pro­duc­ers who love their work, follow the International Olive Council’s rules, and try to be honest.”

Advertisement

Winning a Gold Award for Yanni’s Finest, a medium inten­sity Wild Chalkidiki EVOO, and a Silver for Yanni’s Family, a medium Galani of Chalkidiki, at the world’s biggest olive oil com­pe­ti­tion, Prodroumou said they felt like they were at “the top of the world, and my hus­band Yannis said with a huge smile, ‘I am the king of the world,’ like DiCaprio in the Titanic.”

With a Gold Award for his Pamako Monovarietal Mountain Bio, a medium inten­sity Tsounati (Athinolia), Eftychios Androulakis is also proud to see his Cretan Tsounati among the best olive oils of the world. This used to be “a vari­ety that every­body thought can’t even pro­duce extra virgin,” he told us, espe­cially in “one of the worst years in Cretan olive oil,” due to weather and insect prob­lems. “We over­came this.”

Advertisement

For four years, Androulakis has been climb­ing his huge, remote moun­tain trees to har­vest their olives, then con­duct­ing exper­i­ments with refrig­er­a­tion of olives before milling, removal of their pits, use of argon gas, and much more.

NYIOOC2018

Winning NYIOOC Gold Awards three years in a row, this time for the medium inten­sity Kolovi ACAIA Organic, Ellie Tragakes said her team at Hellenic Agricultural Enterprises is pleased to have helped “pro­vide the Kolovi olive vari­ety native to Lesvos the inter­na­tional recog­ni­tion and appre­ci­a­tion it deserves,” as their “efforts to pro­duce high­est qual­ity olive oils are con­sis­tently rec­og­nized by this pres­ti­gious com­pe­ti­tion.”

Ioannis Kampouris of Elawon, pro­ducer of Gold Award-win­ning Elawon Green Fresh, a medium inten­sity Athinolia, seemed to echo others in saying “these medals give us life” and make “us want to work harder.”

As Kampouris com­mented, many a Greeks claim the world’s best olive oil comes from their own vil­lage (or region or olive vari­ety). In recent years, care­ful Greek pro­duc­ers like these NYIOOC win­ners have stud­ied modern olive oil pro­duc­tion meth­ods and engaged in the seri­ous, per­sis­tent efforts nec­es­sary for claims about being one of the best to have merit for more than one vari­ety, vil­lage, and region in Greece.