By Lisa Radinovsky
Greek extra virgin olive oils won 39 quality awards at the TerraOlivo Mediterranean International Olive Oil Competition this year. TerraOlivo CEO Eyal Hasson praised Greeks’ “great performance this year” in competition with 506 samples of oil from 20 countries. Some of the top Greek winners discussed their olive oil, olive variety, location, and “secrets.”
At TerraOlivo, which takes place in Israel each year, thirty judges from Europe, the Middle East, and North America considered samples of oil made from 65 olive varieties. The judges awarded Greek extra virgin olive oils (EVOOs) 3 packaging design awards and 39 quality awards: 8 Gold awards, 16 Prestige Golds, 13 Gran Prestige Golds, and 2 special awards.
For the second year in a row, TerraOlivo’s Best of Greece award went to Hellenic Agricultural Enterprises (HAE), which also earned a Gran Prestige Gold for their Acaia Organic EVOO. Ellie Tragakes explained to Greek Liquid Gold that Acaia is a monovarietal olive oil made from a less known olive variety, Kolovi, which produces “unique flavor characteristics: a subtle, delicate flavor, a fruity aroma, and a smooth texture, with a barely bitter aftertaste in spite of very high antioxidant content.” Tragakes adds that HAE’s Kolovi EVOOs from Lesvos are “very well balanced oils, so that their fruitiness is in excellent harmony with their spiciness.”
Tragakes and her team “are incredibly excited about the results of the TerraOlivo competition” in Israel, which can help more consumers learn about their products. As she explains, “our olive groves are located in the southern part of the island of Lesvos, around the area of Plomari, which is our ancestral home. We hope that by expanding the presence of Acaia around the world, we will help to acquaint consumers everywhere with this underappreciated island.”
Hailing from another island, Cretan Mill by the Almpantakis family captured the Best of Crete award as well as a Gran Prestige Gold for their Kritikoi Elaiones (Cretan Olive Groves) EVOO. Their 100% Koroneiki EVOO “stands out for its rich flavor and delicate taste,” according to Michail Almpantakis. “Coming from the fertile island of Crete,” their EVOO is now exported to more than 40 countries. “The Cretan olive oil we provide on the shelves worldwide is the same we offer to our children.” Combining tradition with innovation, “modern facilities, and our specialized staff,” the company has earned multiple certifications and awards, yet it still strives to improve, determined to consistently provide “top quality products” with “high nutritional value.”
Also determined to “continue with passion, and to produce only the highest quality products,” Argyris Kelidis’s Kyklopas took home two Gran Prestige Gold awards from TerraOlivo: one for Kyklopas Early Harvest EVOO and another for Kyklopas Organic. These are both single variety Makri extra virgin olive oils from northeastern Greece—a less-known variety from a region just recently winning recognition for its EVOOs. Valia Kelidou told Greek Liquid Gold that she and her family are determined “to promote our region to the ends of the world.” They are making excellent progress, since these medals bring their award count to 73—“and so we are celebrating” 36 years of olive growing, “constantly raising the bar to maintain our award-winning quality.”
Bio Cretan Olive Oil Ltd. also has a lot to celebrate. At TerraOlivo, they won Gran Prestige Gold and Best Packaging Design awards for Critida Premium Selection PDO Messara, as well as a Prestige Gold for Critida Premium Selection Organic Koroneiki. Ioannis Andreadakis explained that the Bio Cretan team takes “advice from specialists” on how to best use organic methods to protect the environment, while striving “to implement new techniques in olive farming.” They combine “respect for tradition” with ongoing efforts to improve quality using modern knowledge and facilities. The result: especially high quality, high phenolic Koroneiki EVOO awarded for its health benefits as well as its flavor.
Winning a Gran Prestige Gold this year for a different EVOO from the same part of Crete, Oleum Crete PDO Messara, Kostas Kidonakis has captured awards from TerraOlivo for four years. Helping at his family’s company since he was about nine years old, and now co-owner with his cousin Kostas, he loves olive oil and has learned all about “how to produce an excellent product,” thanks to seminars and experiments with the production process. He and his cousin communicate directly with the producers about how to cultivate “perfect olives.” They are constantly at the mill at harvest time, and they respond immediately to customers’ concerns once their especially healthy, high phenolic Koroneiki olive oil is ready to sell.
Diamantis and Dino Pierrakos have also put in “years of hard work applying all that we know” to their family business, Laconiko. This year, they won a Gran Prestige Gold for Laconiko Olio Nuovo Unfiltered Reserve at TerraOlivo. “We put all our heart and passion into the quality of our olive oil,” attaining consistently high quality “year after year.” They achieve this using “only the healthiest Koroneiki olive fruit from the sandy soils of the southern Peloponnese, 25 minutes south of Sparta, in the region of Trinisa, Laconia,” with “the Mediterranean sea breeze and the salty mist in the air.” There, “the sun kisses our olive fruit and ensures the unique aroma and flavor of our olive oil.”
An additional Peloponnesian EVOO, E-La-Won Premium, also captured a Gran Prestige Gold. Very pleased, Ioannis Kampouris and his team feel “even more of an obligation to increase our efforts to produce an even better final product.” To this end, they pay “attention to the smallest detail,” with “devotion and personal presence” at all stages of cultivation, harvesting, production, and storage. This care with their unripe early harvest olives yields awards for “intense fruity aromas like banana, grass, tomato leaves, even almonds” and “a balanced bitterness and spiciness.” The E-La-Won team’s efforts have also been recognized with an environmental award for careful management of waste, and health benefit awards for EVOO so healthy it is used in scientific experiments.
Experience, hard work, education, dedication, attention to detail, concern for the environment, health benefits, flavor, and aroma: these create award-winning Greek extra virgin olive oils that deserve appreciation worldwide.
COMPLETE LIST OF QUALITY AWARDS FOR GREEK EXTRA VIRGIN OLIVE OILS AT TERRAOLIVO 2018
- Hellenic Agricultural Enterprises — Acaia Organic — Best of Greece
- Almpantakis S.A. / The Cretan Olive Mill S.A. — Kritikoi Elaiones — Best of Crete
- Almpantakis S.A. / The Cretan Olive Mill S.A. – Kritikoi Elaiones
- Bio Cretan Olive Oil Ltd. — Critida Premium Selection PDO Messara
- Hellenic Agricultural Enterprises — Acaia Organic
- Kidonakis Bros — Oleum Crete PDO Messara
- Kyklopas Elaiotriveio Argyri Kelidi S.A. — Kyklopas Early Harvest
- Kyklopas Elaiotriveio Argyri Kelidi S.A. — Kyklopas Organic
- Laconiko — Laconiko Olio Nuovo Unfiltered Reserve
- Liá Cultivators — Liá Premium Edition
- Olicobrokers I.K.E. — Green Diamond PDO Kalamata
- Oliorama & Co GP — Oliorama Exclusive Bio PGI Olympia
- Olivelawon I X Kampouris E E — E-La-Won Premium
- Olympus Olive Oil — Olympus Olive Oil
- Sparta Groves Sppcc — Sparta Groves Early Harvest Hand Picked
- Agro.Vi.M. S.A. — Iliada PDO Kalamata
- Alsea / Sigounas Nikolaos — Alsea Selection Agriniou
- Apollonia Farm — Apollonia Farm Extra Virgin Olive Oil Kolymvari Chanion Kritis PDO
- Bio Cretan Olive Oil Ltd. — Critida Premium Selection Organic Koroneiki
- Botzakis S.A. — Botzakis Olyssos Organic EVOO Koroneiki
- Chartzoulaki Eleni Mon. Ike. — Helix
- Chartzoulaki Eleni Mon. Ike. — Helix Organic
- Dimitrios Georgios Andriotis & Sia OE — Kopos Le Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- Gaea Products S.A. — Gaea Fresh EVOO
- Mediterranean Natural Foods S.A. Mnf — Eleon Gold Label
- Nikolaos Ailamakis & Co O.E.E — Agouron
- Nikoloulia Panagiota — Elegia
- Olympian Green International S.A. — Olympian Green Extra Virgin Olive Oil Oly Oil Traditional
- Sakellaropoulos Organic Farming — Majestic
- Sparta Groves Sppcc — Sparta Organic Early Harvest Hand Picked
- Terra Creta S.A. — Terra Creta Organic Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- Agro.Vi.M. S.A. — Iliada Organic
- Agro.Vi.M. S.A. — Iliada Single Estate
- Greka Icons S.A. — Navarino Icons Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- Greka Icons S.A. — Trea Fruity
- Jordan Olivenoel Gmbh — Jordan Olivenoel – Nativ Extra
- Olympian Green International S.A. — Greek Organic Ktima Louiza
- Rafteli Protouli & Co. — Aegaea PGI Lesvos
- Terra Creta S.A. — Terra Creta 42 Premium Blend Extra Virgin Olive Oil
For TERRAOLIVO 2018 Best Packaging Design awards, see the competition website.
Thanks to Hellenic Agricultural Enterprises for the photos from the island of Lesvos.
“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.”