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Spanish Producers Win Big at NYIOOC

Spain won six Best in Class, 83 Gold and 38 Silver Awards at the New York International Olive Oil Competition last Thursday.

Joan González-Bueno accepted a Gold Award from Curtis Cord for his Tierra Callada robust Spanish Picual at the 2017 NYIOOC
May. 4, 2017
By Pablo Esparza
Joan González-Bueno accepted a Gold Award from Curtis Cord for his Tierra Callada robust Spanish Picual at the 2017 NYIOOC

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With six Best in Class and 83 Gold Awards, Spain led the two top cat­e­gories at the 2017 edi­tion of the New York Inter­na­tional Olive Oil Com­pe­ti­tion, which announced its results last Thurs­day.

This has been a dif­fi­cult year in terms of pro­duc­tion. So we value this very much.- Borja Adrián, Finca La Torre — Win­ner of 4 Gold Awards

The Euro­pean coun­try came in sec­ond in the num­ber of Sil­ver Awards, with 38, and was the sec­ond-win­ningest coun­try in the total award count after Italy.

Spain’s per­for­mance at this year’s com­pe­ti­tion shows a remark­able step for­ward even com­pared to its impres­sive results in pre­vi­ous edi­tions.

In 2016, 78 awards were won by Span­ish olive oil pro­duc­ers, five more than in 2015. This year, Spain totaled 110 awards.
See more: The Best Span­ish Olive Oils for 2017
The award-win­ning Span­ish pro­duc­ers con­tacted by Olive Oil Times agreed that Spain — which pro­duces around 60 per­cent of the world’s olive oil — is chang­ing its pro­duc­tion path from quan­tity to qual­ity. This con­stant and some­how rel­a­tively recent switch, they point out, has proved cru­cial.






And within the con­text of a chal­leng­ing cam­paign which led to a drop of almost 30 per­cent in global olive oil pro­duc­tion, they see their per­for­mance at the fifth edi­tion of the NYIOOC as a suc­cess.

It’s all about the approach you take. There are plenty of pro­duc­ers in Spain, of course, but, from humil­ity, we thought that the only way to dif­fer­en­ti­ate our oils is by mak­ing the best prod­uct we were capa­ble of,” said Eliseo Población, sales man­ager at Oleo de Quirós. Its Pago de Quirós olive oil, pro­duced in Spain’s cen­tral province of Toledo, won a Best in Class award in the cat­e­gory of North­ern Hemi­sphere organic robust.

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We have com­peted at the NYIOOC I think since the first edi­tion of the com­pe­ti­tion as we believe that the Amer­i­can mar­ket is very impor­tant for the Span­ish pro­ducer. And of course, we under­stood this is the most impor­tant award in order to achieve this recog­ni­tion,” Población added.

Rafael Alonso, the rep­re­sen­ta­tive of Oro del Desierto, an estate in Almeria’s desert — one of the aridest places in Europe — agreed. His organic coupage earned a Best in Class Award in the cat­e­gory of North Hemi­sphere organic medium while the pro­duc­er’s organic robust Picual also won a Gold.

Angelica Ceregido accepted the Gold Award for Montsagre Seleccion Familiar Picual

Since a few years ago, Spain has led some rank­ings. This does not mean Spain has bet­ter oils than other coun­tries, but we have oils that are as good as ones from any other ori­gin. Spain has tra­di­tion­ally been a coun­try of pro­duc­tion, and it still is. We pro­duce more than half of the world’s olive oil. But we have man­aged to move a step for­ward. Now we don’t have to make only quan­tity but qual­ity,” Alonso told OOT.

So this is an impor­tant prize because in New York com­pet­i­tive­ness is high. This recog­ni­tion helps us to pro­mote our prod­uct. We are very happy,” he said.

Sixty-five per­cent of the 168 entries from Spain were rec­og­nized in New York, the world’s largest and most pres­ti­gious olive oil com­pe­ti­tion, dur­ing a press con­fer­ence streamed live. Spain had the high­est rate of suc­cess among the main con­tenders.

Gold Award winner Henri Mor representative Henri Alegria with NYIOOC Judge Brígida Jiménez Herrera (Photo: NYIOOC)

Italy also had an out­stand­ing win­ning rate of 63 per­cent for its 198 entries.

This year it has been tougher than the pre­vi­ous ones as there have been more entries. How­ever, we had our best per­for­mance this year. So for us, this is a won­der­ful recog­ni­tion for the hard work that is involved in the process of mak­ing high-qual­ity olive oils,” said Juan Igna­cio Valdés, pres­i­dent of La Olivilla, an estate placed in the vil­lage of Que­sada, south of Jaén’s Sierra Cazorla.

La Olivilla’s Dehesa de la Sabina oil was named Best in Class for the North Hemi­sphere, organic, mono­va­ri­etal, medium inten­sity cat­e­gory.

Eusebio Garcia de la Cruz won a Gold Award for his Spanish blend (Photo: NYIOOC)

When asked what makes his oils spe­cial, Valdés links its qual­ity to the par­tic­u­lar­i­ties of the place his olive trees grow and the way they are cul­ti­vated.

We think that olive oil is a bit like wine. In the wine world, the ter­roir con­cept is men­tioned very often: the influ­ence of the soil and the way trees are grown. We believe that those fac­tors have a huge influ­ence in our oils.

We use pro­tec­tion­ist, bio­dy­namic and con­ser­va­tion­ist tech­niques in our fields. So, as we have improved our fields, we see that our oils are increas­ingly har­mo­nious and with more per­son­al­ity,” Valdés explained to OOT.

The jury of the NYIOOC, com­posed of 15 mem­bers com­ing from every pro­duc­ing region in the world, ana­lyzed 910 olive oils from 27 coun­tries. The sam­ples were metic­u­lously blind tasted.

The awards were announced to over 200 rep­re­sen­ta­tives of every branch of the olive oil indus­try.

We don’t go to every com­pe­ti­tion in the world. We go to those we con­sider to be fairer and we think the New York com­pe­ti­tion is one. So the fact that we have been awarded for four years in a row with four Gold Awards makes us very proud. Fur­ther­more, this has been a dif­fi­cult year in terms of pro­duc­tion. So we value this very much,” said Borja Adrián, the com­mer­cial direc­tor of Málaga’s Finca La Torre, win­ner of four organic, mono­va­ri­etal Golds.


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