Competing with 563 olive oils from 22 countries, Greek olive oils captured 176 awards at the 7th Athena International Olive Oil Competition this year. In Sitia, Crete, 30 judges from 12 countries evaluated almost equal numbers of samples from Greece and abroad, with the results suggesting that the quality of Greek olive oil continues to improve each year.
The percentage of Greek entries earning medals increased from 54% of the Greek oils entered last year to 61% in 2022. Greek flavored olive oils were especially successful, with 28 of the 36 samples winning awards. Awarded oils came from many parts of the country and a number of different olive varieties.
The Best of Greece award, the Best Koroneiki variety extra virgin olive oil (EVOO) worldwide and Best Koroneiki of Greece distinctions, as well as a double gold medal, all went to Terra Creta Kolymvari EVOO from Crete. Terra Creta also earned a double gold for their Grand Cru Koroneiki EVOO, a gold medal for Terra Creta Basil Bio, and a silver for Terra Creta Lemon Bio, two organic flavored Koroneiki olive oils.
Emmanouil Karpadakis explained to Greek Liquid Gold that many factors enable Terra Creta to produce large quantities of excellent olive oil. “A smooth collaboration between teams of farmers and our experts is crucial, along with our dedication to quality, innovation, transparency, and respect for the product and the environment through sustainable practices. We are very proud of our direct collaboration with farmers. In addition, the flexibility of our innovative olive mill enables us to work continuously on exploring new tasting profiles of Koroneiki variety olives.” That exploration has yielded long lists of major awards at important international competitions.
The Best Greek organic EVOO and Best olive oil from Laconia, Peloponnese distinctions both went to Olive Poem – a drop of art, a blend of 70% Koroneiki and 30% Myrtoelia extra virgin olive oils. As Theodoros Koutsotheodoris explains, Olive Poem is “a very small company that produces a single-estate olive oil from an olive grove that follows the most traditional agriculture.”
As Koutsotheodoris adds, on Olive Poem’s estate “all the plants are self-germinated in the grove and grafted with tissues of olive varieties from trees already present in the grove. It is not only organic, but the most natural form of agriculture. The trees are well adapted in the field, and they have very little need for nutritional or phytosanitary help. So the signature of our project is the terroir of our olive grove and natural, traditional agriculture.”
Made from limes that were crushed whole, and the oil from Koroneiki olives from Laconia, Laconiko Lime won a double gold medal and designation as the contest’s Best Flavored olive oil for the second year in a row. These were just two of Laconiko’s nine awards. Laconiko Meyer Lemon also claimed a double gold medal, while Laconiko’s Dillemon earned a gold, Lemon Thyme won a silver, and Garlic and Mushroom Thyme received bronze medals. Laconiko’s extra virgin olive oils earned awards as well: a silver medal for Laconiko EVOO and a bronze for Olio Nuovo.
Diamantis Pierrakos is pleased to have won awards from a respected international competition based in Greece: “because Greece is where our olive oils are born, they deserve to be recognized in their place of birth.” Pierrakos emphasizes that he and his team at Laconiko “constantly give 110% of ourselves to produce the best we can. We are honest, and the samples that we compete with are a true representation of all of our oils that we offer our customers, as we continue to improve and offer them the absolute best.”
Hailing from land northwest of Laconia in the area of Ancient Olympia, the competition’s Best Greek olive oil from Elis, Peloponnese was Olympian Myth by The Olive Temple. This Koroneiki EVOO also won a double gold medal, while the company’s Laurel & Flame Fresh, made from Tsabidolia olives, and Laurel & Flame Olympia PGI, a Koroneiki – Kolireiki blend, captured gold medals.
Alexis Karabelas credits many things for his team’s awards, including their agronomists’ use of organic farming and oil extraction within four hours, and their utilization of “green energy.” Karabelas believes their innovative olive mill makes “the big difference.” He is also proud of their MY ID Project, which focuses on quality and transparency. When consumers scan a QR code on Olive Temple products, they can access a great deal of information, such as the EVOO’s “chemical analysis, organoleptic analysis, awards, and food pairing suggestions and recipes.”
The other Greek double gold medal went to Vatsiko extra virgin olive oil from the Agricultural Cooperative Eleonas, which produces certified quality agricultural products in Gargaliani, Messinia. (“Vatsiko” is a name used for the Koroneiki olive variety in Messinia.) This 150-member cooperative cultivates 105,000 olive trees.
Nikolaos Athanasopoulos, the president of the cooperative’s administrative council, reported that “every single olive tree is cultivated under the system of good practices and environmental management. The collection and processing of olives is done in a single day, in order for the oil to be protected from temperature changes and rotting of the fruit after it is removed from the tree.” The cooperative works with respect for the health, safety, and welfare of the environment, producers, and consumers.
Alexis Karabelas considers the Athena competition “a very well organized international competition that takes place in our country, changing places every year and highlighting the gastronomic wealth of each area visited.” He appreciates not only the awards he receives, but “the analyses they send us, the final touch on the excellent work they do.”
The competition also takes another extra step: from 1:00 to 8:00 p.m. on May 29, before the 7:30 p.m. awards ceremony, there will be a public tasting of the award-winning olive oils in Zappeion Megaron Exhibition Hall in Athens.
With their ministries among the competition’s most important supporters, the Greek Minister of Merchant Shipping and Island Policy and the General Secretary of the Ministry of Rural Development and Food observed part of the olive oil evaluation process in Crete. In the past, dignitaries have also attended the Athena competition’s tasting day and awards ceremony to sample some of the best examples of this traditional Greek and international treasure, the liquid gold olive oil.
Greek Double Gold and Gold Medal Winners
Double Gold Medals
(Olive Oil, Producer, Variety, Region)
- Terra Creta Kolymvari – Terra Creta – Koroneiki – Crete, Chania
- Laconiko Lime (Flavored) – Laconiko – Koroneiki – Peloponnese, Laconia
- Terra Creta Grand Cru – Terra Creta – Koroneiki – Crete, Chania
- Laconiko Meyer Lemon (Flavored) – Laconiko – Koroneiki – Peloponnese, Laconia
- Olympian Myth Robust – A.M.G. Karabelas Family – Koroneiki – Peloponnese, Elis
- Olive Poem (Organic) – Olive Poem – Koroneiki 75%, Mirtolia 25% – Peloponnese, Laconia
- Vatsiko – Eleonas – Koroneiki – Peloponnese, Messenia
(Olive Oil, Producer, Variety, Region)
Terra Creta Basil Bio (Flavored, Organic) – Terra Creta – Koroneiki – Crete, Chania
Elasion – Elasion – Koroneiki – Crete, Lasithi
Argali Greek Organic – Giovanni Bianchi – Argali – Koroneiki – Peloponnese, Messenia
Marmaro – Garofallos Dimitrios – Hondroelia of Chalkidiki – Macedonia, Chalkidiki
Laurel & Flame Fresh – A.M.G. Karabelas Family – Tsampidoelia – Peloponnese, Elis
Hermes Dimarakis Estate Mandarin (Flavored, Organic) – Hermes – Koroneiki – Peloponnese, Argolis
Pellas Nature Sage (Flavored) – Pellas Nature – Koroneiki – Macedonia, Pella
Apirooil – Apirooil – Koroneiki – Peloponnese, Laconia
Castello Zacro Zitronen (Flavored) – Deligreece – Koroneiki – Crete, Lasithi
My Olive Tree – My Olive Tree – M. Karelas Bros – Koroneiki – Peloponnese, Messenia
Ploumi – Elaiomylos Karepidis – Koroneiki – Crete, Heraklion
One Root – Cretan Heritage – Koroneiki – Crete, Chania
Red Sparrow – Delicious Crete – Koroneiki 50%, Amfissis 30%, Tsounati 20% – Crete, Heraklion
Omikron (Organic) – Voyiatzis Organics – Kolovi 60%, Andramitini 40% – Aegean Islands, Lesbos
Mediterre Olymp Olympia Organic – Mediterre Eurofood – Koroneiki 80%, Kolireiki 20% – Peloponnese, Elis
Eliama Daily Value Premium – Ellis Farm – Koroneiki – Crete, Heraklion
Mediterre Oregano (Flavored) – Mediterre Eurofood – Koroneiki – Peloponnese, Elis
Laconiko Dillemon (Flavored) – Laconiko – Koroneiki – Peloponnese, Laconia
Mythogea Cretan Organic – Melira – Koroneiki – Crete, Chania
Alfa Plus – Agricultural Olive Cooperative of Akrasi – Kolovi 95%, Andramitini 5% – Aegean Islands, Lesbos
One & Olive Premium – Olive Ergo – Αnagnostopoulos – Koroneiki – Peloponnese, Messenia
Sapfo – Papadellis Olive Oil – Kolovi 70%, Andramitini 20%, Agrielia 10% – Aegean Islands, Lesbos
Mythogea Early Harvest – Melira – Koroneiki – Peloponnese, Elis
Theion Elaion (Organic) – Biositia – Koroneiki – Crete, Lasithi
Terra Zakros – Nikolaos Ailamakis – Koroneiki – Crete, Lasithi
Ena Ena Organic – Hellenic Fields – Koroneiki – Peloponnese, Elis
Lio – Lio Natural – Koroneiki – Peloponnese, Elis
Mediterre Alea (Organic) – Mediterre Eurofood – Koroneiki – Peloponnese, Elis
Ktima Olon (Organic) – Ktima Olon – Koroneiki – Aegean Islands, Lemnos
Pamako Premium Mountain Organic Monovarietal – Androulakis Eftychios Olive Oil Bottling Pamako – Tsounati – Crete, Chania
Laurel & Flame – A.M.G. Karabelas Family – Koroneiki 90%, Kolireiki 10% – Peloponnese, Elis
Dafni (Organic) – Bio Olivenöl Dafni – Koroneiki – Crete, Lasithi
39/22 Koroneiki – Great Stories – Koroneiki – Peloponnese, Argolis
Mediterre Omphacium – Mediterre Eurofood – Olympia 100% – Peloponnese, Elis
Archetypon – Olive Groves Archetypon – Koroneiki – Peloponnese, Messenia
Cretanthos Bio Early Harvest (Organic) – Cretanthos – Koroneiki – Crete, Rethymno
Castello Zacro Basilikum (Flavored) – Deligreece – Koroneiki – Crete, Lasithi
Imera – Agricultural Olive Cooperative of Imera – Olive of Chalkidiki 80%, Megaritiki 10%, Prodromou, Koroneiki, Petroelia 10% – Macedonia, Kozani
Palekastro – Nassiakou Stephania – Koroneiki – Crete, Lasithi
See the competition website for the complete list of Greek medals and Greek olive oils’ special awards.
Thanks to Terra Creta for the photo that appears with this article.
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(This story was 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.)