Spain received 78 awards this year at the prestigious New York International Olive Oil Competition (NYIOOC). The number increased from the 73 awards taken home in the 2015 NYIOOC. Although many of the competing Spanish producers were not able to attend the awards ceremony for the 2016 NYIOOC, there was a strong energy of solidarity between those that were in New York for the press conference and awards reception. When Spanish award recipients received their award, fellow Spaniards shouted the phrase “Viva España!” (Long live Spain), the show of support for fellow producers sending the message that the sector is united in the goal to achieve high-quality oils.
Those that could not attend were able to view the
See Also: NYIOOC Award Winners from Spain
In the small town of Úbeda, Lola Sagra from Nobleza del Sur, winner of Best in Class for her Picual, told Olive Oil Times she stayed up late to see if their hard work met the high expectations of the 15 world-renowned olive oil tasters.
Like other top producers, Sagra is not only representing an outstanding product, but also hundreds of years of hard work, a unique region, and a team of close family and friends that have worked together for generations towards a common goal.
Joan González-Bueno was able to make the event. He claims to have a foot in Spain and the other in the United States. The young producer explained that his family has olive groves in Jaén, however, they were not fully on board with his modern view of production. He anticipates that his winning a Gold Award for Tierra Callada, will demonstrate to his family that he is on the right track. Joan also recognized the difficulties of marketing and sales in the States and said he is willing to get a truck and travel around to sell his product. He believes that grass-roots efforts and hard work will eventually pay off.
It is not the first year that Lucia Gamez has made it to the NYIOOC to take home a Gold award. Her love for her family and her zeal to represent their hard work brings her back to the competition. When the Olive Oil Times asked her how to best use Dehesa de la Sabina, she told us that she loves her oil in both baked goods and cocktails. She highly recommends incorporating it into a brownie recipe. The oil compliments the chocolate in a unique way.
Elena Perez Canal represented her family´s oil from Galicia, produced for three generations. It is unique since there are only 500 olive farmers in the northern autonomous community that produce only 8,000 liters. Her family´s oil Gotas de Abril, “Droplettes of April” in English, was awarded a Gold. She claims that apart from the climate and terrain of the coastal region, her oil achieves a special flavor from the blend of three varieties: Hojiblanco, Arbequina and Frantoio. The Frantoio gives it a pleasant peppery pungency. The product is elegantly packaged in a bottle that resembles the fruit of an olive.
Hacienda de Colchado, produced from olive groves in Iznajar located in Southern Spain, is a recent comer to the sector. Andrés Matas Matas told OOT that he and his partner Perfecto Matas Llamas aim to achieve the highest of quality. Some of the challenges they have faced in the first year were in the selection of the best olives and in how to market their product. When asked how he likes to use his olive oil at home, Andrés said with confidence, “the Spanish way, on toast for breakfast”.
There were both veterans and new-comers to the event. Finca la Torre, Venta del Baron, Oro de Desierto, Albea Blanca and Rincón de la Subbética swept Gold Awards once again. Where as Cortijo el Puerto, Morellana, and Conde de Mirasol who are new to the competition helped add to the list of Gold Awards. Next year surely there will be many more Spanish participants and hopefully even more awards. Hard work, favorable conditions and a pest-free year can only tell.