` Strong Showing for Italy at NYIOOC - Olive Oil Times

Strong Showing for Italy at NYIOOC

Apr 20, 2015 2:04 PM EDT
Luciana Squadrilli

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Despite expe­ri­enc­ing one of the worst olive har­vests in recent his­tory, Italy main­tained its posi­tion as the sec­ond-most-awarded coun­try at the 2015 New York International Olive Oil Competition last week, just behind Spain.

Italian pro­duc­ers were stung by a series of chal­lenges dur­ing the 2014/2015 har­vest sea­son, chief among them a bac­te­r­ial blight that wiped out around 40 per­cent of pro­duc­tion and led to a more than dou­bling of the price of Italian extra vir­gin. Many Italian pro­duc­ers were not able to pro­duce any olive oil at all this sea­son.

Nevertheless, some of those who were able to with­stand the envi­ron­men­tal onslaught man­aged to pro­duce won­der­ful extra vir­gin olive oils.

The bad har­vest caused a reduced Italian pres­ence at NYIOCC with 100 entries com­pared to 141 in 2014, while the com­pe­ti­tion saw an over­all record num­ber of entries from 25 dif­fer­ent coun­tries. That did­n’t mean poor results: This year Italy took home 43 awards, while Spain received 73 and the United States 39.
See Also: The Best Italian Olive Oils for 2015
From Italy hailed 5 of the 18 Best in Class win­ners. Moreover, the inter­na­tional panel of expert tasters, led by Dr. Giuseppe Di Lecce (respon­si­ble for Food Chemistry Department at Eurofins, Italy), Ms. Eleftheria Germanaki (panel super­vi­sor for the Laboratory of Organoleptic Assessment of Virof, and respon­si­ble for the Greek Quality Systems National System of Accreditation) and Dr. Brígida Jiménez Herrera (direc­tor of the Center IFAPA de Cabra in Spain) awarded Italian prod­ucts with 30 Gold and 8 Silver Awards in the North Hemisphere cat­e­gory.

The 5 Best in Class Italian olive oils were: Agrestis Nettaribleo Pdo Bio by Agrestis Cooperative (Sicily), Electum by La Selvotta (Abruzzo), Fonte di Foiano 1979 by Oliveto Fonte di Foiano (Tuscany), Origini by OlioCru (Trentino), and Villa Zottopera by Azienda Agrobiologica Rosso (Sicily).

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Agrestis Nettaribleo is an organic extra vir­gin belong­ing to the Monti Iblei Pdo in Sicily, made by the Agrestis com­pany. The farm was estab­lished in 2003 by the two part­ners with their fam­i­lies, to exploit the incred­i­ble qual­ity of olives grow­ing near Buccheri, a small Sicilian vil­lage in the Iblean moun­tains.

The vil­lage gained the medi­a’s atten­tion this year for the num­ber of awarded com­pa­nies and prod­ucts orig­i­nat­ing there. Today Agrestis counts 30 hectares with 12,000 olive trees; they pro­duce five dif­fer­ent extra vir­gin olive oils and a num­ber of other prod­ucts such as olive patés and table olives.

Awarded Best in Class in the medium fruity, mono­va­ri­etal, organic cat­e­gory in New York, Nettaribleo was one of Italy’s most awarded extra vir­gin olive oils in 2015. According to the NYIOOC jury, its inten­sive fla­vor rich in grassy scents and green toma­toes make it excel­lent in com­bi­na­tion with var­i­ous dishes like: sal­ads, mixed greens, legumes, soup, roasted white and red meat dishes.”

Electum is one among eight extra vir­gin olive oils made by the Sputore fam­ily-run com­pany La Selvotta near Vasto, in a beau­ti­ful area of Abruzzo not far from the Adriatic Sea beaches. The farm wel­comes guests in a cozy coun­try house. While the Sputore — who also pro­duce wine, pre­served veg­eta­bles and choco­late — usu­ally focus on sin­gle vari­ety oils, Electum is an har­mo­nious blend made by the olives of Nebbio, Gentile di Chieti and Leccino vari­eties from the cen­tury-old trees grow­ing on the com­pa­ny’s lands. It was awarded Best in Class in del­i­cate fruity, blend, con­ven­tional cat­e­gory for its del­i­cate aroma with pleas­ant notes of fresh grass and green almond which are con­firmed by tast­ing the oil, with neat arti­choke notes and a del­i­cate green tomato and sweet almond taste.

Fonte di Foiano 1979 is a blend of hand picked olives (60 per­cent Frantoio and 40 per­cent Moraiolo) har­vested in October from a selected cru of the Foiano olive-yards in Castagneto Carducci, in the lovely coun­try­side near the famous wine Mecca” of Bolgheri.

The farm was set up by the Milan-based own­ers in the Seventies as a coun­try retreat recov­er­ing the cen­tury-old olive groves where Moraiolo, Frantoio, Gremignolo and Leccino trees grew. Their sons then improved it over the years, by plant­ing new olive trees of dif­fer­ent vari­eties (the local Pendolino, Maurino, Leccio del Corno, Santa Caterina and those typ­i­cal of other areas such as Coratina, Ascolana and Picholine).

In 1990 the first inner mill was built, in order to obtain the best extra vir­gin olive oil. The Fonte di Foiano 1979 was awarded Best in Class in Robust, Blend, Conventional cat­e­gory for its charm­ing notes of arti­chokes, green grass and tomato leaf, and for the well-bal­anced bit­ter­ness and pun­gency with a long-last­ing fla­vor.

Origini is pro­duced by OlioCRU, a small con­sor­tium” born by the union between the his­toric Toniolli mill and the young Ca’ Blanca farm recently estab­lished by Mario Morandini in Trentino, in the pic­turesque regional shores of the Garda Lake. The olives of Casaliva, Frantoio and Leccino vari­eties are grown on the morainal hills near the Arco Castle and on the Mount Brione slopes in the Riva del Garda ter­ri­tory.

In recent years, inter­est­ing exper­i­ments have been made blend­ing the local vari­eties with Southern ones such as Carolea and Coratina. Thanks to the Mediterranean-like” cli­mate of this pecu­liar area in Northern Italy, and to the utmost atten­tion which the olive trees are lav­ished upon fol­low­ing the organic agri­cul­ture’s rules, the OlioCRU’s prod­ucts are widely appre­ci­ated.

Origini — awarded Best in Class in Robust, Monovarietal, Organic cat­e­gory — is obtained with depit­ted Casaliva olives har­vested when the olives are green to enhance the aroma of freshly cut grass, green almond and arti­choke leaf.

Villa Zottopera, awarded Best in Class in the del­i­cate, mono­va­ri­etal, organic cat­e­gory, comes again from Iblean Mountains area in Sicily, not far from Buccheri, and it is obtained by Tonda Iblea olives. The farm and the mill are hosted in the beau­ti­ful estate belong­ing to the Rosso Cosenza fam­ily since the eigh­teenth cen­tury, when oil, wine and wheat were pro­duced here.

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A charm­ing coun­try house as well as a farm, the estate is famous for its won­der­ful olive oils. Villa Zottopera, belong­ing to the Monti Iblei PDO and com­ing also in the tra­di­tional ver­sion along­side the Rosso Grand Cru,” has been described by the NYIOCC jury as fol­lows: Aromas of green fruit, green grass, but­ter and notes of pas­try, pine seed. Taste exhibits abun­dant fruiti­ness, green grass, sweet­ness, some bit­ter­ness, light pun­gency and notes of ripe fruit, banana, with excep­tional har­mony, a high com­plex­ity and a high per­sis­tence.”

Among the other Italian pro­duc­ers who won Gold and Silver Awards, some were able to get two, or even three awards.

Lucini Italia won two Gold Awards (one for the robust blend Lucini Italia Founders Reserve which also gained the Gold last year, and one for the medium blend Lucini Italia Founders Reserve Delicato) plus the Silver Award for the del­i­cate blend Lucini Italia Premium Select. California Olive Ranch, the US com­pany that recently acquired the Tuscany-based Italian farm run by the Lucini import com­pany, also won for its Miller’s Choice.

The Tuscan com­pany Franci, run by Giorgio Franci and his fam­ily, won Gold Awards for the robust organic blend Franci Bio and for the ele­gant, robust blend Villa Magra which also got a Gold in 2014.

Frantorio Romano, set in Campania region, won two Gold Awards: one for the del­i­cate organic blend Gold Bio show­ing excep­tional har­mony, a high com­plex­ity and a high per­sis­tence”, and one for the charm­ing Ortice Medium Single Variety (also awarded last year). https://bestoliveoils.org/producer/frantoio-romano/

Azienda Agricola Leone Sabino — based on a fam­ily farm­land of 150 hectares of olive groves in the Lecce area — won a dou­ble Gold for the two robust Coratina extra vir­gins: the fierce Don Gioacchino from olive groves with plants over 200 years old (which also won the Gold Award last year) and the Sabino Leone Coratina PDO.

All the Italian awarded extra vir­gin olive oils can bee seen on the brand new web­site, bestoliveoils.org which rep­re­sents the offi­cial results of the NYIOOC.

Antonio Lauro, the Italian olive oil con­sul­tant and taster who was on the jury and served as a panel leader last year, was quite sat­is­fied, both with the Italian results and with the com­pe­ti­tion pro­ceed­ings. This year once again has been a won­der­ful expe­ri­ence to be part of the panel; the tasters were highly skilled and the orga­ni­za­tion was per­fect,” he said.

We received many defected oils, almost 49 per­cent, Lauro added. But, on the other hand, many sam­ples were so good, earn­ing even more than 90 points, that we had to pro­ceed to the final play­off. Only 43 per­cent of the Italian sam­ples was awarded, but con­sid­er­ing the ter­ri­ble year we had, I’m quite sat­is­fied with the final result.”

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