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Draw your own conclusions

While it is true that practically all the competitions held yearly to distinguish olive oil quality tend to use professional tasters in their juries and generally abide by the International Olive Council protocols in their classifications, it is also true that they do not all share the same prestige.
Up until recently, the criticisms of certain events were limited to close circles, defining them as pure business to attract participants with the promise of an evening from which they would almost certainly walk away with an award, as long as they met with the minimal quality requirements. This is so much the case that, according to what we’ve been hearing for some time, a considerable number of producers decide not to submit their products and many tasters decline a lot of the invitations they receive.
A similar argument was publicly put forward by the organisers of the World’s Best Olive Oils (WBOO) at the start of this year to justify their controversial decision to leave out the results obtained in three of these competitions in their calculations of the best olive oils and mills this year, as we explained in our special report on awards published in this edition.
For their part, the organisers of the competitions in question are indignant about what they consider an absurd omission. Or this at least is what Raúl C. Castellani transmitted to us in the interview we also published in this edition of OLIVARAMA.
For our part, we simply reflect both perspectives without declaring in favour of either. Which is also why we included the complaints against the WBOO criteria due to its inclusion of certain competitions and exclusion of others using the excuse of the high number of awards they grant given that, if this were really the reason, they would have to leave far more competitions out of their calculations.
On the other hand, we commend the effort made by WBOO when drawing up this ranking given that some of the competitions included do not publish the brand names of the winning oils, but rather just the companies name which, occasionally are presented under different or even misspelled names. Those who do publish the brand name, don’t always publish it in its entirely or, if they do they sometimes omit the varietal the oils are made of meaning that if they pertain to a range of various oils, it is hard to pinpoint exactly which one won the award.
Having reached this point, we have little alternative but to paraphrase the journalist Ana Pastor and say “this is the data, draw your own conclusion”.


High Quality


Once again, Spain heads up the international Top 10

It’s impossible to please everyone and even less so in the olive oil sector. This time around, certain international competitions and selections convened year after year to distinguish the quality of this product triggered the controversy.
Although many of these events have been a hot topic on the grapevine for some time now, the truth is that nobody has been as publicly clear and blunt about their opinion as the World’s Best Olive Oils, an annual ranking that weighs the results obtained in the most prestigious olive oil competitions in both hemispheres to determine the best oils in the world.
Bearing this in mind, a few months back they decided to toughen their selection criteria using the demanding standards organised by the International Olive Council at the end of each season as a point of reference. Thus the decision was made to discard those tournaments that, among other things, distinguished over 25 olive oils in each of the gold, silver, bronze or equivalent categories. As a result of this amendment, its last edition excluded competitions like TerraOlivo (Israel), Olivinus (Argentina) and The New York International Olive Oil Competition (USA). It also left out the Concorso Internazionale Leone d’Oro dei Mastri Oleari (Italy), though in this instance due to the fact that it failed to deliver its results on time.
As a result of these changes along with the incorporation of the Copenhagen International Olive Oil Awards (Denmark) and the Concurso Internacional de Aceite de Oliva Virgen Extra - Premio Domingo Faustino Sarmiento (Argentina), 16 competitions shaped the ranking of the World’s Best Olive Oils, instead of the 18 that determined the last edition.
Below, we will describe a selection of the main international competitions without analysing their rigour, but excluding those which do not publish their outcomes on their respective websites.
We will also cover the Award, “Alimentos de España al Mejor Aceite de Oliva Virgen Extra” granted by the Spanish Ministry of Agriculture, Food and the Environment, which is exclusively national.

Check the winner lists on our "AWARDS" section



An attack on Asturian cuisine

Under the stony stare of the Christ the Redeemer that crowns the church of Santa María Magdalena, this typical Asturian cider house offers its guests an oil which, apart from being greasy, blatantly flouts the current law. A real pity because the menu, based on typical local dishes, surpasses the pathetic presentation of the oils that accompanies it by far. Then again, maybe not, in the light of the oil served… See picture.

Place: Sidrería Casa Gaspar (Ribadesella, Asturias)
Date: August 2, 2014


Oil Tasting


Melgarejo Picual

Colour: Green.
Nose: High fruit intensity and pronounced green notes, among which the leaf stands out over the grass. Tomato, artichoke and other vegetal notes are also highly intense.
Palate:The bitterness and spiciness intensities can be considered balanced among themselves. The green characteristics stand out, and are very persistent. There is considerable harmony between the perceptions in the mouth and the nose.
Varietal: Picual.
Origin: Pegalajar (Jaén).


A World of Surprises

Cold and ultrasound to preserve oil

High power ultrasonic energy is awakening avid interest in the agrifood sector, particularly in olive oil. In his doctoral thesis, Simón Adrover, member of the Institut de Recerca i Formació Agrària i Pesquera de les Illes Balears (IRFAP), put forward the thesis that this technology makes it possible to preserve the physical, chemical and sensorial qualities of extra virgin olive oil for longer.
This conclusion was reached by comparing the traditional preservation systems (temperature, lack of light and the use of a modified atmosphere) to an innovative proposal that consists of applying high potency ultrasonic energy.
The results show that both procedures make it possible to preserve the oil quality for a period of 16 months.
However, when the acidity level is high (0.7%), the traditional methods are not capable of protecting quality for longer than four months of storage time, while low temperature storage preserves it for up to 12.
For the moment, these studies have been conducted using the extra virgins from Majorca. If they succeed, the application of cold and ultrasonic energy to halt the oil triglyceride crystallization process will constitute an authentic revelation that will give the end product a clear and shining appearance for longer.


Book Review


El Llibre de l’ Oli

Edited by: Lectio Ediciones
Language: Catalan
Year of edition: 2013
Pages: 130
RRP: 32 €
Tel.: +34 971 533 850

The olive tree has been cultivated in Palma de Mallorca since the Classical period. So much so, that it forms part of the most spectacular landscapes and has been a key element in the island’s economy for centuries. In this territory, the olive groves of Sierra de Tramuntana are outstanding, where trees grafted onto wild olives rise up with an extraordinary stature and characteristics, which have inspired illustrious painters and poets alike. All of this innate beauty is portrayed in Llibre de l’Oli (El libro del Aceite), a compendium of historical, cultural, anthropological and ecological information about the olive groves and extra virgin olive oil produced on this island.
Agricultural and gastronomic information makes up this publication written by Joan Mayol, producer of Verderol, an olive juice extracted from around 3,000 olive trees that grow in the Palma area and are protected under the PDO Oli de Mallorca.
In addition, its 130 pages are illustrated with high quality photos and also enclose a reproduction of the pictorial work by Pilar Montaner dedicated to the olive trees, from the first half of the XX century.
A true work of art dedicated to lovers of this olive juice!


Olivarama Recommends

Mercato Ballarò

C/ Santa Engracia, 24
28010 Madrid (Spain)
Tel.: +34 913 101 618 / 913 084 966
Type of cuisine: Sicilian with seasonal products
Chef: Angelo Marino
Average price: 15 – 20 € (Mercato Abajo) and 35 - 45 € (Mercato Arriba)
Opening hours: From Mondays to Saturdays, from 12:00 to 00:00. Sundays, from 12:00 to 16:00. Closed on Sundays night.

It is impossible to conceive of a Sicilian cuisine without extra virgin olive oil! An opinion shared by those behind Mercato Ballarò, a tasty den for anyone feeling homesick for the taste of Italy.
Angelo Marino, chef and owner, claims that olive juice occupies a central place in his cuisine, a masterly blend of the best ingredients from land and sea with the care dedicated to their preparation.
As soon as they walk in the door of this restaurant in the Spanish capital, diners are enveloped in a warm and familiar atmosphere, that grows as they discover the evocative menu that uses the flavours of the Sicilian pantry to broaden its spectrum in a Mediterranean key, with references to the culinary roots of other neighboring regions and the north of Africa.
In both of his dining rooms, it is easy to bow to his typical culinary delights such as the wild seabass carpaccio with a summer truffle and asparagus tapenade, currently in season; the sapphron flavoured caserecce with a seafood orgy and shoots or the red Almadraba tuna… all dressed with typical undertones of the local varietals such as the Biancolilla,and the Spanish olives, such as Arbequina or Picual, the latter represented by the oil, Dominus Cosecha Temprana!
To enter Mercato Ballarò is to enjoy exultant taste experiences, results of a gentle blend of cultures that impregnates the island bathed in the Mediterranean.


Gastronomy & Olive Oil


Cuttlefish infusion with its eggs glazed in evoo

Few are capable of matching his skill with this mollusk so typical of the South. In his hands, the cuttlefish takes on another dimension, becomes tastier, seductive and extremely appetising. The cooking master, Xanty Elías, works magic with this raw material that he accompanies with vegetables, leafy greens and other culinary seasonings to create an exquisite work of art. An authentic sensorial feat in which the extra virgin olive oil contributes a very personal touch!... Read more.


Oil Tasting


Francisco Gómez Gold

Colour: Golden.
Nose: Medium fruitiness with fundamentally ripe and mild green grass notes that blend with apple and almond.
Palate: Both the bitterness and spiciness emerge with medium intensity. Between these two attributes there are also vegetal notes that combine with a gentle touch of green grass. It stands out for its sweet undertones.
Varietal: Arbequina.
Origin: Villena (Alicante).


Special Tasters


A tasty and exclusive tourist experience

Iberian ham is one of the gastronomic gems of the mediterranean pantry. This universal foodstuff contains myriad organoleptic properties and boasts endless culinary possibilities.
It is now possible to discover its culture, secrets, production zones and the natural settings in which the pigs are raised thanks to the Ruta del Jamón Ibérico (Iberian ham route), a project that offers unique experiences for the enjoyment of this extremely healthy agrifood product… Read more.


Olivarama Recommends

El Inti de Oro

C/ Ventura de Vega, 12 & C/ Amor de Dios, 9
28014 Madrid
Tel.: +34 914 296 703 / 914 291 958
Type of cuisine: Traditional Peruvian
Chef: Segundo Vidarte/Gonzalo Amorós
Average price: 30 €
Opening hours: From Mondays to Sundays, from 13:30 to 16:00; and from 21:00 to 24:00.

The most authentic flavours and aromas of Peruvian cuisine reside in El Inti de Oro, a Madrid-based restaurant which, after 20 years in operation, continues to represent this mix of cultures resulting from the five thousand regional specialities.
Both the staff and the decoration of this restaurant are dressed in Peruvian style, while it's kitchen offers a cuisine based on the most authentic flavours and aromas of the ancestral Creole gastronomy.
Sprinkled with the extra virgin, Abril Gran Selección, the dishes that are minutely designed by the chefs, Segundo Vidarte or Gonzalo Amorós, serve to provide an unusual sensorial experience washed down with pisco, a distilled grape juice, or the beer, Cusqueña.
Among the delicacies to share, the ají amarillo (bread soaked in milk, Parmesan cheese and a slight hint of walnuts) or the escabeche de pescado are ideal starters that prepare the palate to receive the fried "Inti de Oro" ceviche, the Quinoto (a sort of risotto made of a cereal traditionally associated with the Incas) or the Corvina a lo macho (fillet of seabass with rice and shellfish). We will enjoy these "main courses” with the Suspiros limeños (caramel with meringue and cinnamon) or the ice cream made of lúcuma (a regional fruit).
If you want to experience an incredible journey to this Latin country without leaving Madrid, pay a visit to any El Inti de Oro restaurant, the oldest, classic Peruvian restaurants in the capital!



What are we talking about when we refer to fat yield?

Fat yield is a parameter that measures the fat content or, in other words, the oil contained in the olive, which is the raw material, and in the alpeorujo (solid liquid waste), which is the main byroduct of the virgin olive oil production process.
In both cases, the fat content is calculated on a portion of the ground olive or alpeorujo, from which all moistness has been eliminated in order to verify how much oil there is in a known quantity of olive or alpeorujo.
When we analyse the olive, this parameter takes on considerable importance because it determines the basis on which the olive producer is paid for the production. In this case, the value usually assigned is called “moist fat yield” or “fresh weight”. The results expressed in these terms are influenced by the presence of moisture, meaning it is not a good measure to reliably establish the amount of oil accumulated in the fruit. This is why it is recommendable to use the so-called fat content in dry matter (% FCDM) calculated using the equation, representing the moisture and volatile matter (MVM) of the sample:

% FCDM= (% MoistOil / 100 - % MVM) 100

This formula is also applied to the calculation of alpeorujo fat content on a dry base.
The percentage of oil contained in the fruit is the amount of potential oil that may be extracted from the same and, therefore, if the efficacy of the elaboration process were 100%, it would be equivalent to the amount of oil that could be extracted.
Nonetheless, there are a number of factors that prevent this process from occurring at its maximum capacity. Some of them are: the addition of additives during malaxation of the paste, whether water or talc; the ripeness level of the ground fruit; the moisture content and volatile matter of the fruit, etc.
All of these variables cause a small amount of oil to be lost in the alpeorujo, measurable in this case by calculating its fat content. In this sense, a routine control during elaboration makes it possible to discover how effective the extraction process is turning out to be.
Likewise, the process fat yield or process balance will take into account the R values, the real oil quantity contained in the fruit and the oil losses in the alpeorujo.
Mari Paz Aguilera, expert in oils from CITOLIVA


From the Tree to the Table



Also known as the varietal from the North, the Arróniz is a genuine survivor. It has successfully evaded the harshness of an occasionally extreme climate, it has managed to adapt to all sorts of terrains and it has proven capable of preventing its own disappearance at a time in which the vineyard began to steal its thunder. Luckily, the current-day administrative and professional efforts have succeeded in giving it back an honourable, though discreet, place in national olive oil culture… Read more.


Book Review


Terres de L’ Ebre, itinerarios turísticos

Edited by: Lectio Ediciones
Language: Spanish
Year of edition: 2014
Pages: 120
RRP: 13,90 €
Tel.: +34 977 602 591

A list of proposals for seven long routes through the Lands of the Ebro, each with basic information on how not to miss out on the natural spaces, heritage and cultural activity of each emblematic area is what the reader will find in the pages of Terres de L’ Ebre,
itinerarios turísticos. This is a wonderful guide to discover a spectacular territory which, located in the south of Catalonia, surrounds the river and offers a very varied geography.
In this manual, the author Jordi Bastart provides everything necessary for the enjoyment of a different and interesting destination: walking itineraries; visits to castles, natural caves, beaches and outstanding places to stay; tastings of the typical gastronomy…
But he also suggests travelling deeper into this land populated with olive groves and vineyards which adorn the mountains of Pàndols, Cavalls and Fatarella, to discover where these delicious extra virgin olive oils –produced under the PDOs Aceite del Baix Ebre-Montsià and Aceite de Terra Alta- and wines that pair with even the most varied cuisine, come from.
Without a doubt, Terres de L’ Ebre, itinerarios turísticos is a journey illustrated with spectacular images of the unique and varied landscape of these lands declared a Biosphere Reserve.


The Event


Queens of kings

Olives are the undisputed queens of the aperitif. Whether alone or as the base for original and tasty dressings, these nutritional treats promote their enormous culinary potential whenever they can. One example of this took place in the hands of a group of “dressing kings” who participated in The Aceituning Young Authors Competition. Held in Madrid back in the month of June, it was a very closely fought contest, but just one chef from Madrid succeeded in winning the first prize… Read more.




“It’s not easy to build a brand in the US. It takes a long time, a lot of money and a lot of work and patience”

Anglosaxon mastermind with a Latin soul. This is the image María, Cuban by birth and North American by adoption, transmitted to us in the few hours we spent with her. A combination that, alongside her experience in the distribution of gourmet olive oils could make a big difference to the successful distribution of our own brands in her country of residence, which the Spanish forums and symposia should not allow to get away. She certainly seemed willing to go wherever she might be needed… Read more.




The consumer demands, the producer offers and the horeca channel decides

Although numerous hostelry establishments still don’t grant olive oil the protagonism it deserves, the truth is that, bit by bit, more and more of them have finally decided to allow themselves be seduced by the irresistible creations of many producers and are attempting to please consumers who increasingly demand to know what they are putting into their mouths. From roadside bars to ostentatious restaurants. The status makes no difference. It all depends on the businessman’s commitment to the quality of his product and, ultimately, the satisfaction of his clients… Read more.