Spain won more prizes than any other country in the latest edition of the New York International Olive Oil Competition.
Of the 135 Spanish extra virgin olive oils entered this year, 3 scored best in class, 50 earned gold and 15 landed silver awards. In total, the world’s biggest olive oil producer bagged 68 prizes, two more than Italy, the next biggest, which had 141 entries among the 651 oils from 25 countries judged last week.
NYIOOC president Curtis Cord noted Spain did even better than last year, when it took home 51 awards. “I think it was an excellent result for Spain, where there has been so much effort to improve and highlight the quality of its oils,” he said.
Out of a total 19 best in class awards this year, Spain’s haul of three went to Masía el Altet Premium, in the medium blend category, Melgarejo Frantoio Premium, in the robust monovarietal category, and Oro del Desierto Organic Coupage, in the robust blend category.
Masia el Altet: medals help open doors in new markets
Masia el Altet, located in the Alcoy Mountains of Alicante, also took gold medals for its High End, High Quality and Special Selection oils — all four oils it entered were winners.
Owner Jorge Petit said the company already exports to countries including Japan and the United States, and around Europe, but such awards help open doors in markets where people don’t yet know much about olive oil. “For example if people think a little pungency or bitterness is a defect, when really it’s a virtue, it helps to have medals on your bottle.”
“Making good olive oilis like making good wine, it demands that you really look after your olive trees, have the right microclimate, and harvest at exactly the right time. We live on the plantation so we check the trees every day,” he said.
Rain favoured complex flavor for Aceites Campoliva
Aceites Campoliva, maker of the Melgarejo olive oils, took home four gold awards in addition to its best in class prize. Production and quality director Blas Melgarejo said he was delighted with the result, “which confirms our efforts in trying to produce the best possible olive oils and gives us great motivation to keep doing so.”
Located in Jaén, the epicenter of Spain’s olive oil production, the company won two gold awards last year and this year had a boost from favorable weather – particularly rain in the fall – which “saw the olives ripen in such a way as to produce extraordinary sensorial characteristics in terms of complexity and harmony,” he said.
“Desert Gold” oil an offspring of sustainable production
True to its name, Oro del Desierto is produced in a semi-desert area of Almería, in the bottom righthand corner of Spain. It is made by the family company Rafael Alonso Aguilera, which exports more than half of its total annual yield of about 150 tons of organic extra virgin olive oil.
Marketing director Rafael Alonso said its Oro del Desierto Organic Coupage, which won a Best in Class among robust blends, was the young company’s only entry in the NYIOOC and has an annual production of about 35 tons.
Alonso said he hoped the win would raise global awareness of the small producer, which has the philosophy that, “even if something is already really good, it can always be better.”
“We’re not just organic, we’re also sustainable, we recycle all our waste material, such as for fertilizer, and use solar power to be self-sufficient in energy,” he said.
All of the New York International Olive Oil Competition winners are listed at the website: bestoliveoils.org.