the winners of the Kotinos competition standing next to each other, holding their awards

For the fourth year, the Filaios Friends of Olive Oil Society sponsored the Greek national Kotinos Olive Oil Competition. At the Food Expo in Athens, awards were presented to Greek extra virgin olive oils made from 14 different olive varieties in many parts of the country, highlighting producers’ ability to excel even in a difficult harvest year.

Antonia Trichopoulou, Vice President of Filaios and president of the Hellenic Foundation for Health, spoke to the mainly Greek audience about Extra Virgin Olive Oil: The Secrets We All Know. One of the first scientists to call attention to the health benefits of the traditional Mediterranean diet in which olive oil plays a central role, she pointed out that in Greece olive oil “is not only health…it is culture, it is tradition, it is the economy, it is the environment.”

Efi Christopoulou, head of the Kotinos jury, a chemist, olive oil tasting (organoleptic) expert for the International Olive Council (IOC), and one of the pioneers of the organoleptic method, emphasized the Kotinos Competition’s reliability. Christopoulou reported that companies from 17 different parts of Greece won prizes, suggesting that a focus on excellent quality has spread throughout the nation. Awards were given out to olive oil in three categories: organic, PDO – PGI, and conventionally produced; both robust intensity and medium intensity oils were awarded in each case (since no delicate EVOOs had been contending for prizes).

Papadopoulos - Mediterre & SIA EE was the top winner at this year’s Kotinos Competition, with two Gold Awards for robust intensity EVOOs in the organic and PDO - PGI categories: Mediterre Alea Organic and Mythocia Early Harvest Olympia PGI. (This followed two Extra Gold Awards at BIOLNOVELLO 2018.) Eva Papadopoulou stressed the importance of taking great care throughout the olive oil production process, “from the tree to the bottle,” applying lessons learned through continuing education. Their team also works with less common Greek olive varieties; aside from the popular Koroneiki, they use Kollyreiki and Nemoutiana, creating both blends and monovarietal olive oils. Coming from olives grown around ancient Olympia in Ilia (Elis), their prize winning EVOOs have aromas of artichoke, tomato leaves, and fresh cut grass.

The only other producer to win more than one Kotinos award, Eftychios Androulakis captured a Gold for his medium intensity Pamako Premium Organic Mountain Monovarietal Tsounati EVOO and a Silver for his robust Pamako Unique Premium - Organic Mountain Blend of Tsounati and Koroneiki oils, both from western Crete. Working alone except at harvest time and in the olive mill, Androulakis always strives for both an excellent flavor and impressive health benefits. He performs endless experiments with olive dryers, olive separation, and a constantly rebuilt depitter in the mill, with nets and fertilizers in the olive grove, and much more. Androulakis described his “mania to try to understand what the olive trees are going to give you every year, and then adjust to them so that every year you will make a better oil.”

Panteleimon Fanourgakis took home a Gold Award for another Cretan EVOO: his medium intensity Koroneiki, Fanourgakis Family PDO Messara, in the PDO – PGI category. Thanks to continuous studies, he was able to overcome last year’s drought and olive fly attacks, achieving an average acidity of 0.4% and producing over 20 tons of his award winning oil. He plans to learn more in the future, with the goal of producing even better quality EVOO, because “we must always keep learning.”

Vangelis Varaklas agreed that education is “a very powerful tool that helps us get even better at what we do.” A Gold Award for Delicious Crete’s Red Sparrow EVOO the first time it entered a competition supports that claim, since Varaklas believes “it’s the first time I know what I’m doing” with an EVOO, although his flavored olive oils have already won several prizes. Varaklas and his wife Aphrodite Katsoulaki used to be interior designers, but they changed their profession during the Greek economic crisis, developing the Delicious Crete brand “to share with the whole world the best things our island had to offer.” Delicious Crete’s blend of Koroneiki, Amfissis, and Tsounati oils was part of an unusual three-way tie for the Gold Awards for conventionally produced robust intensity EVOOs.

Kyklopas Estates’ robust Early Harvest Extra Virgin Olive Oil also won a Gold Award. Valia Kelidou told Greek Liquid Gold that Kyklopas combines the new generation’s education with her parents’ 40 years of experience cultivating the local Makris olive variety in northeastern Greece. Along with hard work and attention to detail, it also “helps very much that we have control of every step in the production process,” from cultivation to packaging. “We are not buyers; we are producers, and I think this is very important to guarantee the quality” that has earned them 81 awards, including a Gold for quality at the Monocultivar Olive Oil Competition in Milan this year and “the highest ranking of any Greek olive oil ever in the EVOO World Ranking,” #33 in the world for 2018.

The third Gold Award for a robust conventionally produced EVOO went to Nikolaos Maroulakos at Malva for Lidrivio Premium Extra Virgin Olive Oil. Nikolaos’s brother Kiriakos Maroulakos explained to Greek Liquid Gold that Malva is a family business focused on quality, not on quantity. Their Koroneiki and Athinolia blend is very high in healthy polyphenols, with just 0.2% acidity. Fortunately, their 3,000 olive trees in the Monemvasia area of Peloponnese had no problems with pests or weather this year. They export 95% of their EVOO, all standardized, to the USA and Europe.

Nik Priftis & Sons took home the Gold for a medium intensity conventionally produced EVOO for their Verus Hellenic Premium Monovarietal, a Maronias EVOO from Alexandroupolis in northeastern Greece. A small “traditional company which has been in the EVOO production business for five generations,” according to Dimitris Priftis, Nik Priftis & Sons works with oil from several olive varieties, including the little-known Klonara. Based in eastern Attica, they use “methods which we have perfected through constant tests over the years,” including an early harvest of the unripe fruit in October using hands and hand-held harvesting instruments and careful milling and storage procedures, with controlled temperatures and nitrogen to keep out oxygen.

Both speakers and winners seemed to agree on the importance of olive oil as a Greek national product and the need to keep learning and striving for even higher quality extra virgin olive oil in Greece. Pamako’s Eftychis Androulakis, for example, believes it is crucial “to believe that what you’re going to do is going to succeed -- or even if it’s not going to succeed, not to stop trying. Not to have patience, but to insist. You just have to insist, insist, insist on what you believe, to do it.”

KOTINOS AWARD WINNERS 2019

The Complete List

CATEGORY: ORGANIC

ROBUST INTENSITY
Gold Award: Papadopoulos - Mediterre & SIA EE | Mediterre Alea Organic
Silver Award: Eftychios Androulakis | Pamako Unique Premium - Organic Mountain Blend
Bronze Award: Michalis Tzortzis | Olvia Extra Virgin Organic Olive Oil

MEDIUM INTENSITY
Gold Award: Eftychios Androulakis | Pamako Premium - Organic Mountain - Monovarietal
Silver Award: Terra Creta Abee | Terra Creta Organic Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Bronze Award: Anopaea Organic Estate | Terra Anopaea

CATEGORY: PDO – PGI

ROBUST INTENSITY
Gold Award: Papadopoulos - Mediterre & SIA EE | Mythocia Early Harvest Olympia PGI | Olympia PGI
Silver Award: Eleftherios Renieris & Co | Minos | Chania PGI
Bronze Award: Dimas-Marakis Κ & Co | Laas | Laconia PGI

MEDIUM INTENSITY
Gold Award: Panteleimon Fanourgakis | Fanourgakis Family PDO Messara | Messara PDO
Silver Award: Kydonakis Bros | Oleum Crete | Messara PDO
Bronze Award: Maria Spiliakopoulou | Oliorama Exclusive PGI | Olympia PGI

CATEGORY: CONVENTIONAL PRODUCTION

ROBUST INTENSITY
Gold Award: Delicious Crete | Red Sparrow
Gold Award: Kyklopas SA | Kyklopas Estates Early Harvest Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Gold Award: Malva – Nikolaos Maroulakos | Lidrivio Premium Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Silver Award: Physis of Crete | Physis of Crete 0.2
Bronze Award: Vasilis Delivasilis Olive Oil | Vasilis Delivasilis Olivenoel

MEDIUM INTENSITY
Gold Award: Nik. Priftis & Sons | Verus Hellenic Premium Monovarietal
Silver Award: Olivelawon I.H Kampouris Ε.Ε. | E-La-Won
Bronze Award: Voliotis Apostolos | Olive Oil of Pelion Voliotis Family – Green Olives Olive Oil
Bronze Award: Socrates Oil | Socrates
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Thanks to the Filaios Friends of Olive Oil Society for the photos of the winners.

All businesses, organizations, and competitions involved with Greek olive oil or agrotourism or food tourism in Greece are now invited to consider new advertising and sponsorship opportunities on the Greek Liquid Gold: Authentic Extra Virgin Olive Oil website, which reaches readers in 184 countries around the globe.

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