South Africans, along with much of the rest of the world, have long believed that the best olive oils come from countries like Italy, Spain and Greece. We tend to view our local olive oils as 2nd rate, but the reality is actually very different.
For years South African olive oils have been winning awards at olive oil competitions around the world. From New York to Japan and everywhere in between, our local olive oils are going up against big international producers and bringing home the gold. In fact, South African olive oils are regarded, by olive industry insiders around the world, as some of the best in the world. In contrast, much of the olive oil exported by the big producer countries like Italy and Spain is not very high quality. The oils are often blended with inferior oil to bring down the cost while still technically qualifying as Extra Virgin oil.
The South African Olive Association has the task of ensuring that South African olive oils retain their reputation as being among the best in the world. One of the primary mechanisms used to achieve in this task is the SA Olive Awards, which take place annually. All local olive oil producers are encouraged to enter their oils into the competition.
The olive oils are judged blind by a panel of 5 qualified olive oil tasters. The majority of the tasters have experience judging international competitions and to ensure the panel tastes to international standards, the panel chair is always an experienced international judge. This year the panel chair was Sue Langstaff, leader of the UC Davis Olive Oil Taste Panel and co-editor of the book Olive Oil Sensory Science and creator of The Defects Wheel for Olive Oil.
The adjudication is done according to the strict guidelines of the International Olive Council and the oils are ranked as gold, silver or bronze.
This year 87 local Extra Virgin olive oils were entered into the competition and 19 were awarded gold. The winners, by category, were:
• Cederberg Olives Frantoio EVOO
• Mount Ceder EVOO
• Rio Largo Gold EVOO
• Tokara Mission Premium EVOO
• Adamskloof EVOO
• De Rustica Estate Medium EVOO
• De Rustica Estate Collection EVOO
• Green & Gold EVOO
• Kleinbergskloof Olive Estate Blend EVOO
• Mardouw EVOO
• Olyvenbosch EVOO
• Serrado EVOO
• Wildekrans Keerweer EVOO
• De Rustica Estate Collection Coratina EVOO
• Kransfontein Coratina EVOO
• Marbrin Olive Growers Directors Reserve EVOO
• Mardouw Premium XXV Intense EVOO
• Morgenster EVOO
• Porterville Olives’ Andante Intenso EVOO
These 19 oils become the contenders for the top 10 competition which happens soon after the SA Olive Awards are announced.
The South African olive oil industry may still be young, but it’s already making us proud. Let’s support our amazing local olive oils and help the industry grow.
Click HERE to read more about the South African olive industry.
Keen to do more with your olive oil than just drizzle it over your salad? Try these fun recipes!
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