Southern Italy's Producers Shine in Early NYIOOC Results

Among the first winners of the 2020 NYIOOC World Olive Oil Competition are farmers from Campania, Puglia and Sicily.

Mimma, Dina and Carmela Bruno at Sololio Cooperative
May. 15, 2020
By Ylenia Granitto
Mimma, Dina and Carmela Bruno at Sololio Cooperative

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Part of a con­tin­u­ing series on the win­ning producers.

The eighth edi­tion of NYIOOC World Olive Oil Competition is one adapted to these times, char­ac­ter­ized by sub­stan­tial inno­va­tions includ­ing an advanced remote-judg­ing sys­tem and the unveil­ing of results through an inter­ac­tive pre­sen­ta­tion on the offi­cial web­site that allows pro­duc­ers and the pub­lic to fol­low the awards as they unfold.

Despite these shifts, the qual­ity of extra vir­gin olive oils sub­mit­ted by com­mit­ted and pas­sion­ate pro­duc­ers has been on dis­play once again through the awards, and among the first win­ners revealed, sev­eral Southern Italian farm­ers stand out.

We are so glad to have received this impor­tant recog­ni­tion,” Marcello Palumbo of Sololio said after the announce­ment that Delia Audace had earned a Gold Award for the third year in a row. 

The Sololio coop­er­a­tive, where Palumbo is in charge of pro­duc­tion, began in 2004 from the ini­tia­tive of three sis­ters — Dina, Carmela, and his wife Mimma Bruno — who rep­re­sent the third gen­er­a­tion of a fam­ily of producers.

In Ostuni, in the province of Brindisi, they man­age a 50-hectare (124-acre) grove com­posed of 2,500 cen­turies-old plants and 4,000 younger ones. Despite chal­leng­ing cli­matic con­di­tions, we have been able to reach our usual lev­els of pro­duc­tion,” the farmer noted, spec­i­fy­ing that Ogliarola, Coratina, and Cassanese gave excep­tional results, and the two lat­ter have been blended to obtain the award-win­ning Delia Audace.

This result brings grat­i­fi­ca­tion to our hard work in the field and in the mill,” Palumbo said, explain­ing that the com­pany runs a facil­ity ded­i­cated to their own olives as well as those of selected pro­duc­ers, which meet high-qual­ity stan­dards. The posi­tion a few kilo­me­ters from the groves allows them to crush the fruits with­out delay.

Further north, on the seafront of Bari, the Girone-Bisceglie fam­ily is cel­e­brat­ing the achieve­ment of the sec­ond con­sec­u­tive Gold Award for their mono­va­ri­etal GangaLupo.

Luigi, Michele and Vito Girone at GangaLupo farm

We are so happy about this award,” Vito Girone told Olive Oil Times. For three gen­er­a­tions, we have been work­ing in the agri­cul­tural sec­tor devel­op­ing tech­niques and farm­ing processes always aimed at both effi­ciency and sus­tain­abil­ity, and this award rep­re­sents a recog­ni­tion of our commitment.”

Their grove of 4,000 plants, most of which are cen­turies-old, is located in the flat area of Santo Spirito, over­look­ing the Adriatic Sea. 

They spe­cial­ize in the cul­ti­va­tion of the Coratina vari­ety. A few years ago, after a long his­tory of whole­sal­ing olives, the fam­ily decided to ded­i­cate its activ­ity exclu­sively to the trans­for­ma­tion of fruits and the pro­duc­tion of high-qual­ity extra vir­gin olive oil. 

The last har­vest was very good,” Girone pointed out. Fundamental was the work of my brother, Luigi, who takes care of the organolep­tic and chem­i­cal aspects of our prod­uct and the land man­age­ment, as well as the advice of the expert Alfredo Marasciulo, who fol­lowed us from har­vest to bottling.”

A Gold Award was wel­comed in Campania, in the town of Ruviano — an acknowl­edg­ment of the qual­ity of Fontana Lupo extra vir­gin olive oil, pro­duced at the Petrazzuoli farm.

We are very delighted with this result,” said Giovanni Petrazzuoli, who man­ages an olive grove nes­tled in the Caiatine hills in the beau­ti­ful and unspoiled ter­ri­tory of the Matese Park.

Giovanni Petrazzuoli and his mother at Petrazzuoli farm Fontana Lupo

We have about 2,000 plants of dif­fer­ent vari­eties, includ­ing Caiazzana — an eco­type grown in this areas for 3,000 years — then Ortice, Frantoio, and Leccino, and some Ravece recently planted,” the farmer explained, adding that the prox­im­ity of huge wooded areas pre­serves an absolutely pol­lu­tion-free environment.

In the past, dur­ing dry sum­mer months, the wolves who lived in the sur­round­ing woods came to drink from an ancient foun­tain located near the orchard – hence the name of Fontana Lupo, which lit­er­ally means Fountain Wolf. During World War II, the par­tic­u­lar tun­nel struc­ture of the foun­tain served as a hid­ing place dur­ing Nazi roundups and saved many lives. 

We define our­selves as cus­to­di­ans of this ter­ri­tory and its beau­ti­ful his­tory,” Petrazzuoli told us. I was born on this farm and fol­lowed in the steps of my grand­fa­ther and father in car­ing for our lands, try­ing to get the best out of its fruits.”

In Cammarata, in the province of Agrigento, Valle dell’Inferno Family Reserve cel­e­brates its third award in a row at NYIOOC, con­firm­ing itself among the Sicilian olive oil treasures. 

I believe that the main merit of this achieve­ment goes to the land from which the qual­ity of our extra vir­gin olive oil orig­i­nates,” Pasquale Mimmo’ Marino, co-founder with his wife Gabriella Giambrone of the Magihouse farm, told Olive Oil Times.

Their orchard is located in a hilly area at 350 meters (1,148 feet) of alti­tude, in the Valley of hell,’ which takes its name from the strong tem­per­a­ture dif­fer­ences between day and night ampli­fied by the sea­sonal trends. 

Plants of Cerasuola, Nocellara del Belice, Tonda Iblea, Biancolilla, Nocellara Etnea, and Passulunara enjoy this unique micro­cli­mate that enhances the level of bio­phe­nols and the aro­matic com­po­nents in the fruits.

Our olive trees grow in clayey soils with a strong sand­stone com­po­nent,” the Sicilian farmer explained. This land is very min­eral, col­loidal, keep­ing the humid­ity of the ground even dur­ing warm months. For this rea­son, our plants not only sur­vive but also give a great extra vir­gin olive oil, whose qual­ity pushes us to enhance and pre­serve even more strongly this unique environment.”

A Sicilian extra vir­gin olive oil from the south­west­ern coast of the island obtained recog­ni­tion. We are happy not only because of the pres­tige of the award but also since we are flanked by the best olive oil brands in the world,” said Francesca Planeta, after receiv­ing a Silver Award for Planeta Traditional. This award is even more appre­ci­ated because, after some com­plex years due to cli­mate issues, we had a very good sea­son, both quan­ti­ta­tively and qual­i­ta­tively, which allowed us to reap the rewards.”

Planeta Capparrina estate

In Sicily, her fam­ily has been pro­duc­ing wine and olive oil for gen­er­a­tions. Committed to enhanc­ing the ter­ri­tory and pro­tect­ing the envi­ron­ment, they have cho­sen to ded­i­cate the Capparrina estate, in the province of Agrigento, to the pro­duc­tion of their oils obtained by the native vari­eties Nocellara del Belice, Biancolilla, and Cerasuola. 

In a place of great bio­di­ver­sity, their 150-hectare (371-acre) olive grove lies on gen­tle hills slop­ing down to the beach of Porto Palo di Menfi.

Despite these dif­fi­cult times, there has been a redis­cov­ery, a growth in the use at home of qual­ity extra vir­gin olive oil,” Planeta con­sid­ered. I like to believe that peo­ple had time to get to know it bet­ter, taste it with care and atten­tion, and appre­ci­ate it in all its aspects, trea­sur­ing this aware­ness for the com­ing months,” she said.

At this moment, this award takes on an even more impor­tant significance.”


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