By Lisa Radinovsky,
In one of the world’s largest, most important organic extra virgin olive oil competitions, judges from 14 countries awarded Greek olive oils 5 Extra Gold Medals, 10 Gold Medals, and 12 Silver Medals. After competing with 500 olive oils from 15 nations in this 23rd edition of the BIOL competition in Italy, Greek winners commented on their success.
Greece’s top medalist in this international competition was Konstantinos Papadopoulos, with two Extra Golds for Mythocia Olympia PGI and Mythocia Omphacium organic extra virgin olive oils (EVOOs). It has already been a big year for Papadopoulos: these awards followed Extra Golds for the same EVOOs at the earlier Biolnovello competition, Gold and Silver awards at the Los Angeles International Olive Oil Competition (IOOC), and three awards at the Kotinos Competition in Athens, and they were followed by Best in Greece, Best Organic, and Double Gold awards at the Athena IOOC.
As Papadopoulos told Greek Liquid Gold, thanks to “continuous efforts for many years, we have managed to be counted among the best olive oils in the entire world, representing Greece in many international olive oil competitions.” They believe these efforts are part of their “duty to our customers, who support us and trust our products, and to Greek olive oil,” keeping it in the top rankings worldwide. But awards are not Papadopoulos’s only concern; he “supports organic cultivation because using products without synthetic substances helps us protect the environment and our bodies.”
Another Greek BIOL Extra Gold was foreshadowed by a Biolnovello Extra Gold: Angelos Spyropoulos’s Centaurs Olive Groves EVOO won both—as it also did a year ago. This EVOO is unusual in combining homodynamic cultivation, an early harvest in October, and a blend of Koroneiki olives, wild olives, and extremely high phenolic Olympia olives for a very healthyresult with noteworthy antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.
As the Centaurs Olive Groves website explains, the homodynamic cultivation methods Spyropoulos uses include “a minimum quantity of homodynamic preparations, which are derived from natural substances that are dissolved in water.” Spyropoulos lets his olive groves grow like a natural forest, free of pesticides and “full of wild greens and flowers that give flavor and fragrances to the olive oil.”
Nikolas Philippidis of Hellenic Fields also encourages various plants to flourish in his olive groves. Already taking home six medals from international competitions this year, including a BIOL Extra Gold award for Ena Ena Organic Olympia PGI EVOO, Philippidis believes his company’s assessment of “the microclimate of the region and the ‘terroir’ characteristic of every grove” distinguishes them.
“For example, the groves that produced our organic EVOO are 85% sand at an altitude of about 400 meters. This, alongside our approach of allowing biodiversity to develop within the grove, and in addition to our carefully planned harvest and storage procedures, is what makes our superior quality EVOOs exceptional.” They allow “each year’s particularities (weather, rainfall, temperatures, pests, etc.) and the struggle that the trees undergo to produce their superior olive fruit” to give each year’s EVOO “a unique flavor.”
Stella Galani was “very excited” when she learned about the Extra Gold her company’s Anoskeli Organic EVOO received this year, “and very proud of our work, because it’s very difficult” to convince Greek farmers that an early harvest and organic cultivation are worthwhile, when a January harvest produces more oil. “We try to educate the producers” about methods and benefits, arguing for the November harvest that produces their better, tastier award-winning EVOO, with its high phenolic content and balanced flavor.
Anoskeli is the name of both a company and the small village that houses it in the foothills of the White Mountains near Kolymbari, Chania, Crete. When they decided to purchase and renovate the village olive mill decades ago, the founders of this family business knew nothing about the benefits of organic cultivation. Now, Galani tells Greek Liquid Gold, “we believe in organic production; people all around the world know we have to be fed better to have better health.”
Eftychios Androulakis of Pamako wholeheartedly agrees that organic cultivation is the way to go, and after years of hard work in barely accessible mountain olive groves, his efforts are paying off. His Gold award for Pamako Mountain Bio Blend preceded Gold and Silver awards at the Athena IOOC and followed Gold and Silver awards at the Cretan Olive Oil Competition—as well as more than “120 experiments with different times, temperatures, ways of crushing (pitted or not), with or without argon, and 5 different ways of harvesting.”
Ioannis Kampouris tells Greek Liquid Gold that he is proud that his Elawon EVOO has received a Gold award in Italy, the world’s second largest olive oil producer. The secrets of Elawon’s success include careful cultivation, an early harvest, immediate oil extraction, storage with nitrogen, and especially “the passion, the ‘meraki’ (as we call it in Greece) for excellent, pure extra virgin olive oil. Nature does the rest.” With the overseas market increasingly demanding organic and GMO free products, their company is adapting, working with other companies and educational institutions, and teaching youths about “the quality and organoleptic components of Greek natural products.”
Focused on organic olive oil quality and ethical and environmental protection, the annual BIOL competition attracts hundreds of producers from all five continents. BIOL aims “to produce a complete reliable and updated overview” of the organic olive oil sector worldwide and to “promote knowledge and consumer interest” in high quality organic products, according to its website.
Founded in 1996, the BIOL Prizes are organized by the C.I.Bi cooperative society in Apulia, sponsored by the Italian Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry, the Municipality of Bari, the International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements (IFOAM), and AgriBioMediterraneo, and promoted by the Apulia Region, the Chamber of Commerce of Bari, and the Municipality of Andria, with additional collaborators.
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.