A FIRST time entrant has scooped a bundle of the top awards in this year's Australian International Olive Awards (AIOA).
Among its swag of medals, Leisal Rose Farm, Boorowa, New South Wales won the Best Extra Virgin Olive Oil in Show - Boutique Volume at the awards.
The twin award for Best Extra Virgin Olive Oil in Show - Commercial Volume went to South Australia's Elisi Grove, also a small producer on the commercial scale and a trophy winner in previous years.
The winners were announced at a virtual presentation on Friday, October 15, the second year in a row the awards have gone online.
The Australian Olive Association-run competition opened to international entries in 2017. The international involvement has continued to grow with this year's entries judged by panels in Spain, Italy, New Zealand, Tunisia, China and across Australia.
Event convenor and chief steward Trudie Michels said this year's results reflect both the sensational 2021 harvest across Australia and continuing improvement by the industry.
"The AOA's ongoing program of extension activities provides workshops, webinars, field days and a repository of reference resources, covering all the crucial elements of production quality from the tree to the finished product," Ms Michels said.
"People are taking it in, and utilising the information, and that's showing in their oils and olives - right across the industry.
"This year the top awards reflect a real cross-section of business sizes, and many people new to the industry or who haven't entered before. A number had also entered previously but not won champion awards before.
"Whereas previously we used to see the big guns dominating the trophy scene, smaller producers are increasingly making their mark on competitions, and have certainly done so at this year's Australian International.
"Some of them are tiny, in fact - they make just 300 litres of oil, or 20 kilos of table olives - and it's really hands-on production."
AOA chief executive officer Michael Southan said the results were more proof the Australian olive industry had really come into its own in terms of quality production.
"We're growing great fruit, processing it with care, putting attention and expertise into incredible oils and table olives, and then ensuring the end products are treated with that same level of TLC," he said.
"It gives consumers the confidence that, if the EVOO, flavoured olive oils and olives they buy are Australian, they're going to be very, very good."
LEISAL Rose's extra virgin olive oil (EVOO) topped the judges' scores with a rare 96/100, taking gold and a clean sweep across the trophy categories: Champion Mild EVOO, Champion New South Wales EVOO, Champion Australian EVOO, Best Southern Hemisphere EVOO and Best EVOO of Show - Boutique Volume.
Elisi Grove's Kalamata EVOO was awarded an equally impressive score of 95 by the judges, earning a gold medal and the trophies for Champion Greek Varietal EVOO, Champion South Australian EVOO and Best EVOO of Show - Commercial Volume.
Also taking major awards were Victorian producers Olive Twist, which won gold, Champion Agrumato Olive Oil and Best Flavoured Olive Oil of Show for its 95-pointed Lime Agrumato; and Saluté Oliva, awarded 92, gold and the trophies for Champion Dried Olive, Champion Australian Table Olive and Best Table Olive of Show for its unique semi dried olives.
Spanish producer Goya En Espaa led the field among international entrants in both oil and table olive categories, taking the Best EVOO Northern Hemisphere award for its Goya Unico Extra Virgin Olive Oil and Best Table Olive Northern Hemisphere for its Manzanilla Stuffed with Minced Smoked Salmon.
Greek producer G-Team was also among the major winners, taking the trophy for Champion EVOO - Highest Phenolic Content for its Hypereleon Ultra Gold. A new award for 2021, this category reflects the increasing global recognition of olive polyphenols for preventative health and treatment.
BEST OF SHOW
BEST OF SOUTHERN HEMISPHERE
BEST OF NORTHERN HEMISPHERE
BEST OF AUSTRALIAN CHAMPIONS
PHENOLIC CONTENT CHAMPION
BEST OF STATE CHAMPIONS
CHAMPIONS AND RESERVE CHAMPIONS EXTRA VIRGIN OLIVE OIL BY CLASS
CHAMPION AND RESERVE CHAMPION FLAVOURED OLIVE OIL BY CLASS
CHAMPION AND RESERVE CHAMPION TABLE OLIVES BY CLASS
Sign up here to Good Fruit and Vegetables weekly newsletter for all the latest horticulture news each Thursday...
Sign up for our newsletter to stay up to date.