Olympian Green Oly Oil bottles on the corner of store shelves and extending in rows to the right and left

Competing with 431 olive oils from 17 countries at the EVO International Olive Oil Contest in Italy, Greek extra virgin olive oils took home 20 Gold awards and 22 Silvers. The 18 judges from 10 countries also awarded 4 Golds and 4 Silvers to Greek condiments based on extra virgin olive oil (EVOO). Some of the top Greek winners shared their reactions.

The coveted Best of Greece distinction went to Olympian Green International SA for Olympian Green Oly Oil Traditional EVOO, which also received a Gold Medal. In addition, Olympian Green’s Ktima Louiza Greek Organic EVOO took home a Silver. Stamoula Karampela explained that Oly Oil is a monovarietal Koroneiki, “a balanced pleasant EVOO with a medium to intense olive fruitiness reminiscent of ripe-harvested olives.” Karampela attributed Olympian Green’s success to agronomists’ monitoring of olive groves and the prompt extraction of oil after olives are harvested, using state of the art machinery.

The Best of Messenia award was presented to LIA Cultivators for LIA Premium Edition, along with a Gold Medal. Last year, LIA was designated the Best Monovarietal EVOO at both Flos Olei and EVO IOOC—“the first time such an award was given to a Greek company,” according to Cristina Stribacu. Those awards proved “the potential of the Koroneiki variety when its oil is made under the right conditions,” as well as rewarding “all the detailed work” that went into her EVOO. This year, she entered only the Olive Japan and EVO IOOC competitions and received Gold Medals in both. LIA also does more than win awards: “our clients are super happy, and our market and sales” look better all the time, with an amazing 290% increase in sales in the first three months of 2019, compared with last year.

Another big winner at EVO IOOC was Papadopoulos - Mediterre & Co, which took home an impressive four Gold Medals for Mediterre Alea Organic, Mediterre Lena Blend, Mythocia Early Harvest Olympia PGI Organic, and Mythocia Omphacium. How did they manage this? Eva Papadopoulou credited attention to cultivation and production methods “from the tree to the bottle,” based on knowledge gleaned from seminars and advice from agronomists. Working near ancient Olympia, their team “tries to identify other olive varieties” with interesting characteristics in addition to Koroneiki, Greece’s most common type of olive: they also use Kollyreiki and Nemoutiana olive oils in their blends and monovarietals.

On the other hand, Terra Creta, winner of two Gold Medals for Terra Creta Grand Cru EVOO and Terra Creta Organic EVOO, has gone to great lengths to get the best out of Koroneiki olives. Emmanouil Karpadakis reports that international tasting experts “initially could not recognize the variety, because it was different from what they tasted before. They could not believe 100% Koroneiki could give the exciting character” of the Grand Cru, an “elegant, not very strong, very well balanced, very complex” EVOO. Their premium olive oils did very well in this year’s competitions, capturing 23 awards to date. This honors their year-round detailed work and confirms the success of a new extraction method capable of yielding large quantities of very high quality EVOOs.

Liokareas Olive Oil also received substantial “validation that our ever-changing process is working,” thanks to five generations’ worth of learning and improvement, as Peter Liokareas told Greek Liquid Gold. They earned a Gold Medal for Liokareas Wild EVOO, a Silver for Liokareas Early Harvest EVOO, and Golds for two of their condiments based on extra virgin olive oil: Liokareas Estate Grown Orange Olive Oil and Liokareas Late Harvest Lemon Olive Oil. With awards for every product they entered at the EVO IOOC this year, Liokareas is proud of the consistency of their success in both good years and bad ones, “the most difficult thing to achieve in an environment that is always changing.”

Eftychios Androulakis also continuously learns and improves, performing hundreds of experiments in the mill in his quest to produce the tastiest, healthiest high phenolic extra virgin olive oils attainable. His efforts were rewarded with Gold and Silver Medals for Pamako Monovarietal Premium Mountain Organic EVOO and Pamako Blend Premium Mountain Organic, respectively, their 15th and 16th awards this year. As Androulakis said, “it’s a big achievement for us to have 16 awards just for quality in 2019, with just two olive oils—awards from everywhere,” from New York to Tokyo. These prizes validate his use of the Cretan Tsounati olives he mixes with Koroneiki for his blend, and his almost single-handed efforts with big old trees scattered in the mountains.

Laconiko’s Diamantis Pierrakos is proud of his team’s Gold Medal for Laconiko Olio Nuovo and their Silver for Laconiko EVOO, results of their willingness to make sacrifices to achieve consistently high quality even in challenging years, “which is what we expect of ourselves and what our customers deserve!” He says their motto is “if there is a will, there is a way to overcome any obstacle. This is what being a producer dedicated to quality and craft means to us: going above and beyond what is expected to ensure our reputation, quality, and passionate dedication in difficult times!” 

“Efforts to achieve the best possible quality never stop” at Sakellaropoulos Organic Farms, either, according to Nikos Sakellaropoulos. This family business won a Silver Medal for their Agourelaio Organic EVOO; they also excelled in the category of condiments based on extra virgin olive oil, where they took home half of the Greek awards for their fascinating blends of olive oil, herbs, and more: a Gold Medal for Gemstone Blend Flavored olive oil and Silvers for Enstagma Gourmet, Enigma, and Syllektikon. Gemstone is an extraordinary blend of oils from three varieties of olives (Koroneiki, Athinoelia, and Kalamon) with a natural infusion of ginger, lime, and basil.

With these awards—one for each sample submitted--Sakellaropoulos Organic Farms moved five steps beyond their remarkable “world record of 100 international taste and quality awards for a Greek single estate producer of organic olive products.” As Nikos Sakellaropoulos explains, those awards for their olive oils and table olives are not for design, but all “for the product itself, the content, the meaning, the reason why the customer buys it.”

Joining the celebration at the EVO IOOC awards ceremony, Peter Liokareas told Greek Liquid Gold he was happy for both himself and other producers who had excelled in this difficult harvest year, with its “fruit fly infestation and temperature issues. It was great to see that these producers were able to overcome the difficulties and still produce award winning products. These types of validations that we can be successful not only in the good years, but the bad years as well” demonstrate “our dedication and persistence in doing what we love to do, and that is being able to give our customers the best olive oil they can get their hands on.”  

Award winning EVOOs and flavored olive oils will be featured in the EVO IOOC Guide 2019 Buyers Edition, a guidebook that will be distributed at international events. Thanks to Olympian Green and LIA for the photos of their products that appear with this article.

All businesses, organizations, and competitions involved with Greek olive oil or agrotourism or food tourism in Greece, as well as anyone else interested in supporting Greeks working in these sectors, are now invited to consider the advertising and sponsorship opportunities on the Greek Liquid Gold: Authentic Extra Virgin Olive Oil website. The only wide-ranging English-language website featuring news and information from the Greek olive oil world, it has now reached readers in 187 countries around the globe.

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