Mythocia olive oil bottle among olives

Competing with 242 samples from ten countries, Greek olive oils earned 25 awards from an international jury at the Japan Olive Oil Prize (JOOP) competition for 2019: 5 Best in Class quality awards, a Best Package award, 11 Gold Awards, and 8 silvers. Several of the top Greek winners discussed the efforts, emotions, olives, and methods behind their success.

Papadopoulos Olive Oil Mediterre captured the Best of Greece award for Mythocia Early Harvest Olympia PGI Organic, which also won a Best in Class award in the PGI category. They also took home another Best in Class prize for their Omphacium extra virgin olive oil (EVOO) in the monocultivar category, plus Gold awards for Mediterre Alea Organic and Mediterre Lena. As Eva Papadopoulou told Greek Liquid Gold, “for us, the production of premium olive oil means passion, love, and devotion. In a difficult harvest year we achieved our goal: to keep highlighting the unique flavors and aromatic characteristics of our region (near ancient Olympia), with the utmost respect for the environment and biodiversity.”

As Papadopoulou added, “we know that through a careful cultivation method, expertise, and respect, we can contribute a perfect product for the consumer. We are committed to continuing with the same passion and devotion.” Education, “love for the fruit, and our passion for producing new flavors and rich aromas” are key to her company’s achievements. While “the most common olive variety in Greece is the Koroneiki variety, we took the initiative to carefully produce other varieties -- Kolireiki, Nemoutiana, Botsikoelia -- to boost the organoleptic characteristics of the extra virgin olive oil and offer new flavors and aromas through blends.”
  
A bit farther south in Peloponnese, near Kalamata, Makaria Terra’s 2,000 olive trees produced another Best in Class award winning monocultivar (single variety) EVOO. Evgenia Andriopoulou emphasized that her team’s “greatest distinctive factor is that we are basically olive oil producers, cultivating our own fields and trading only our product. This is key to our success.” Moreover, they carefully monitor their trees and take all recommended precautions. “Trees are living organisms. If you ‘know and can speak and understand’ their language, then you can take care of their needs.” Their professional taster described this year’s early harvest EVOO as “exceptional,” with a “fruity green character” and medium intensity, “a real Greek character” from “the heart of Messinia,” with a distinctive pungency and “an after taste of fresh green grass and tomato leaf.” 

Sakellaropoulos Organic Farms’ Gold award winning Gemstone Blend Flavored – Aromatic olive oil was judged the Best Aromatic Olive Oil at JOOP. Nikos Sakellaropoulos explained to Greek Liquid Gold that this “unusual, innovative, unique, and really tasty and aromatic” product is a blend of ginger, lime, and basil in a mix of Koroneiki, Athinoelia, and Kalamon olive oils from near Sparta, Laconia, Peloponnese. As Sakellaropoulos added, “a lot of studying, experimenting, scientific research, and practical knowledge and experience have enabled us to produce such excellent olive oils,” bringing them 95 awards from international competitions for their single estate products. With “ideal weather conditions and an exceptional natural environment, we are dedicated to producing the best quality olive oils and table olives with the utmost respect for the olive tree and the land.”

Another olive oil producer with great respect for the olive tree is Eftychios Androulakis. With his first entries in the JOOP competition, his Pamako Premium Organic Monovarietal won a Gold award, while his Pamako Premium Organic Blend captured a Silver, Pamako’s 9th and 10th awards already this year. Androulakis is proud to produce two of Crete’s best EVOOs, but he is very serious about his responsibility “for each bottle of EVOO. Already we are preparing for the new season, and hopefully new technologies and patents will come.” His goal is always to create EVOOs with excellent flavor and aromas as well as very high phenolic content for extra health benefits—as he has for four years in a row now, thanks to his passion for his work, his insistence on what he believes, his willingness to understand and adjust to different conditions, and countless experiments in the olive mill.

Like Androulakis, the team at Laconiko is “very hands on and aware of every part of our process, from the maintenance of the groves to the harvest, all the way to the bottling,” according to Dino Pierrakos. Laconiko Olive Oil won a Gold award for their Laconiko monocultivar and a Silver for their Laconiko Olio Nuovo. Their 5000 olive trees are in a sunny, “unique location 100 meters from the coastline, planted in sand” at sea level in Trinisa, Laconia, south of Sparta. Pierrakos reported that they “believe we continuously produce high quality EVOO because of our love, dedication, and doing what is needed at any expense.” The result is a Koroneiki EVOO that “is very fruity, velvety, grassy, and very buttery. We love sharing our product with everyone and seeing or hearing their expressions of amazement and delight.”

Olympian Green International also claimed a Gold award for their Oly Oil Traditional monocultivar EVOO and a Silver for their organic Ktima Louiza, both well balanced Koroneiki EVOOs. Stamoula Karampela informed Greek Liquid Gold that her company’s co-owner has an olive oil legacy that dates back to 1846. Olympian Green now benefits from state of the art machinery, including a modern technological innovation rare in Greece: vertical malaxers instead of horizontal ones, to help produce olive oils with lower acidity and superior flavors and aromas. Olive groves all around the processing plant in Peloponnese minimize the time between harvest and extraction, which also contributes to olive oil quality. Careful attention from agronomists who monitored olive groves throughout the year helped the Olympian Green team produce excellent EVOOs even in this difficult harvest year.

Dedication, effort, careful attention, and innovation enabled many Greek olive oil producers to overcome serious challenges, create exceptional products, and celebrate their success once again.

Complete List of Greek Winners at JOOP 2019

from the JOOP website

Best in Class Awards

Best of Greece

Mythocia Early Harvest Olympia PGI Organic – Papadopoulos Olive Oil Mediterre

PGI

Mythocia Early Harvest Olympia PGI Organic – Papadopoulos Olive Oil Mediterre

Monocultivar

Makaria Terra – Makaria Terra

Omphacium – Papadopoulos Olive Oil Mediterre

Best Aromatic Oil

Gemstone Blend (Flavored – Aromatic) – Sakellaropoulos Organic Farms

Best Package

Ziro Sitia Organic – Ziro Sitia


Gold Awards

PDO

Ziro Sitia Organic – Ziro Sitia

Organic

Pamako Premium Organic Monovarietal – Pamako / Androulakis Eftychios

Mediterre Alea Organic – Papadopoulos Olive Oil Mediterre

Monocultivar

My Precious Olive Tree – Kanellopoulos Family

Koroneiki – Olix Oil Ltd. 

Oly Oil Traditional – Olympian Green International S.A.

Laconiko – Laconiko

Kyklopas Early Harvest – Kyklopas Elaiotriveio Argyri Kelidi S.A.

LIÁ Premium Olive Oil – LIÁ Cultivators

Blend

Gemstone Blend (Flavored – Aromatic) – Sakellaropoulos Organic Farms

Mediterre Lena – Papadopoulos Olive Oil Mediterre


Silver Awards

PGI

Aegean Gold PGI – Lesvos Rafteli Protouli Maria & Co. E.E.

PDO

Olympus Olive Oil – Olympus Olive Oil

Organic

Mitera Mastoidis – Mitera GmbH

Pamako Premium Organic Blend – Pamako / Androulakis Eftychios Olive Oil

Ktima Louiza – Olympian Green International S.A.

Monocultivar

Yanni’s Finest EVOO – Yanni’s Olive Grove

Aphea – Olix Oil Ltd.

Laconiko Olio Nuovo – Laconiko

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Thanks to Papadopoulos Olive Oil Mediterre for the photos used with this article.

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