At the London International Olive Oil Competitions this year, 16 judges from 11 countries evaluated the quality of 426 olive oils from 21 countries around the globe. Greek extra virgin olive oils won 99 Quality Awards. In the International Health Claim and Design competitions, Greeks won another 25 awards for extra healthy oils and exceptional packaging.

Award-winning extra virgin olive oils (EVOOs) will be available for tasting at the Hilton Kensington Hotel in London on May 13. At the end of the day, a short discussion of how and why to produce and use such excellent, healthy EVOOs will accompany the awards ceremony.

The top Greek winner at the London Competitions was AMACSwith three Gold Quality Awards for Goutis Estate Bitter Gray, Goutis Estate Fresh, and Goutis Estate Seabreeze—the latter also taking home several Design awards: a Silver for Total Image, a Bronze for Container, and a Bronze for Innovation. AMACS also captured two Silver Quality Awards for Goutis Estate Bella Vista and Goutis Estate Premium.

Passionate about olive oil, George Goutis and his team just introduced their extra virgin olive oil to the marketplace this year. For four years, they worked with professional advisors from all over the world, learning about innovative best practices in the production process in order to make excellent olive oil. A focus on testing and tasting for three years has yielded impressive success with several olive varieties and blends.

Another big winner, Papadellis Olive Oil, earned a Silver Quality Award for Sapfo Basic and a Gold for Sapfo Limited Edition, which also received a number of Design Awards: Platinum Awards for Labels, Total Image, and Container, and a Gold for Innovation. Charalampos Papadellis told Greek Liquid Gold these awards made him feel both proud and “more responsible for the future” quality of his products — both the olive oil and the package design. How did he create such excellent olive oil? “Lots of hours of taste tests and careful milling of the olive fruit.”

Kyklopas S.A. was another Gold and Silver Quality Award winner, with a Gold for Kyklopas Early Harvest, “which is produced from unripe Makri olives,” and a Silver for Kyklopas Premium Selection, “made from mature Makri olives,” according to Valia Kelidou. The Kyklopas team is “particularly thrilled” with these awards because they bring this year’s international award count to 16 so far. As Kelidou explains, “our achievements are no coincidence — instead, they are the result of our commitment to quality, our vast experience and knowledge in the field, and our efforts to continuously develop and evolve as a company.”

Evangelia Moschopoulou’s Poiema EVOO picked up a Gold Quality Award and four Design Awards: Platinums for Labels and Total Image and Golds for Innovation and Container. The high quality of their olive oil, Vasileios Roussas says, is due to “the microclimate of the area,” Amvrakikos, and to their organic cultivation and prompt cold extraction after the harvest. Their olive oil’s name comes from the Greek word for “workmanship,” the source of the English word “poem.” Seeking to introduce consumers to what is inside their bottle by offering “a small visual ‘flavor’ of the product,” they “chose to create a poem to signify the act of making. The artwork was designed with forms, layouts and typography” borrowed from poetry books.

Another Gold Quality Award winner, Konstantinos Bougatsos’s Stalia Greek Extra Virgin Olive Oil, also earned Design Awards: Platimum Awards for Total Image and Container, and Golds for Innovation and Labels. Katerina Bougatsou told Greek Liquid Gold that she and her sister Filanthi “created this company with the support of our father, because we love this tradition and want to develop it by introducing innovative ideas.” Always involved in the olive harvest, they now cultivate “the trees of our grandparents” with “love and attention,” harvesting early, extracting the oil immediately at no more than 24 degrees Celsius, and “filtering directly to preserve its aromas.” Filanthi designed their bottles “to portray the Greek breeze” and protect the oil from the light and oxygen that could damage it.

Nikolaos Sigounas’s Alsea Neo captured a Gold Quality Award, and Alsea Selection took home several Design Awards: a Gold for Total Image, Silvers for Labels and Container, and a Bronze for Innovation. Vasiliki Maraveli explains that her team tried to imagine “what kind of olive oil we would like to taste for ourselves and our children,” then worked hard until they came up with that, “controlling all stages of production, aiming every day to become better. This is the vision stimulated by the passion for quality olive oil.” They aim for “harmony and measure” in both the olive oil’s flavor and aroma, and its packaging, which is meant to protect and upgrade the oil and decorate the store and kitchen.

Eftychios Androulakis won a Gold Quality Award for his Pamako Premium Mountain Organic Monovarietal and a Bronze for Pamako Premium Mountain Organic Blend, which also received four Design Awards: Platinums for Innovation and Container, Gold for Total Image, and Bronze for Labels. With 24 awards in the last two years, Androulakis feels proud and happy, but also responsible for the continuous high quality of his “olive juice from a forgotten variety like Tsounati.” Androulakis adds that “there is no magic recipe for creating” olive oil that is both flavorful and high phenolic (extra healthy) like his, especially since “every year is different. It requires constant research, continuous experiments, a lot of time, and mainly passion and love for olive juice.”

Recognizing the importance of olive oil’s many health benefits, the London International Olive Oil Competitions include a unique element for an established mainstream competition: the Health Claim CompetitionTwo Greek extra virgin olive oils received Gold Health Claim Awards after “a specialized chemical analysis” measured “the levels of the major phenols under [European Union] Regulation 432/2012 on the olive oil health claim” to come up with 70% of their final score, and an organoleptic panel gave each olive oil a grade for its flavor and aroma, yielding 30% of the final score for this competition.

After Oliorama Exclusive PGI Olympia received a Gold Health Claim Award, Maria Spiliakopoulou told Greek Liquid Gold that she always has the phenolic content of her olive oil measured at the University of Athens and considers this award “very important because it will help consumers comprehend the health benefits a proper EVOO can provide.” Her team follows the advice of scientists about how to produce the healthiest possible olives, harvest them properly, and extract their oil in order to achieve the optimal health benefits and flavor.

The Greek Olive Estate’s George Mathiopoulos said he and his team are “very happy with our Gold Award for our Drop of Life Organic, as we focus primarily on high phenolic olive oil, and this is one of the few competitions that actually celebrates these olive oils and the producers that make them. High phenolic olive oils are a relatively new product in the market, and these types of health competitions go a long way in creating confidence for consumers.” Working with the naturally high phenolic Olympia/Nemoutiana olive variety, they “have spent the last six years researching, analyzing, and improving our methods and production process to produce even better olive oil year on year.” Their new, innovative PhenOLIV Protect Natural Food Supplement is the first Olive Oil Supplement to be approved by the National Organization for Medicines in Greece.

Greek Gold Quality Awards

  • AMACS – Goutis Estate Bitter Gray
  • AMACS – Goutis Estate Seabreeze
  • AMACS – Goutis Estate Fresh
  • Eftychios Androulakis Olive Oil Bottling – Pamako Premium Mountain Organic Monovarietal
  • Elaikos Extra Virgin Olive Oil – Elaikos Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • Hellenic Agricultural Enterprises Ltd. – ACAIA
  • Greenolia – Greenolia Organic
  • Kyklopas Elaiotriveio Argyri Kelidi S.A. – Kyklopas Early Harvest
  • Maria Micheli – Konos
  • Evangelia Moschopoulou – Poiema
  • Panagiota Nikoloulia – Elegia
  • Papadellis Charalampos and Sia O.E. – Sapfo Limited Edition
  • PJ Kabos (James Panagiotopoulos) – PJ Kabos Family Reserve
  • Silvan Sonnenhain – Silvan Sonnenhain
  • Nikolaos Sigounas, Alsea – Alsea Neo
  • Konstantinos Bougatsos, Stalia – Stalia Greek Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • Voyiatzis Golden Olive Oil – Onar

Greek Gold Health Claim Awards

  • Oliorama & Co G.P. – Oliorama Exclusive PGI Olympia
  • The Greek Olive Estate – Drop Of Life Organic

Greek extra virgin olive oils received too many Silver, Bronze, and Packaging awards to copy here. See the full list of awards on the London IOOC website.

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Thanks to AMACS for the photos.

Courtesy of Lisa Radinovsky, Author

Originally published on Greek Liquid Gold: Authentic Extra Virgin Olive Oil (greekliquidgold.com). See that site for recipes with olive oil, photos from Greece, and olive oil news and information.