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16 Oct 2014 11:42
The best locally-produced olive oils from the 2014 season were announced at the Absa Top Five awards at an event hosted at the Knorhoek Wine Estate in Stellenbosch this week. (Supplied)
is the best olive oil you can buy in South Africa? Olive oil from Spain, Italy
and Greece – to name a few imports – crowd the shelves. But the perception that
an international label necessarily means supreme quality, is challenged by the
South African Olive industry association that says consumers can buy high
quality locally produced olive oil- closer to the source.
The best locally-produced olive oils from the 2014 season were announced at the Absa Top Five
awards at an event hosted at the Knorhoek Wine Estate in Stellenbosch this week.
High-quality South African olive oil“The
olive oil currently being produced in South Africa is of a very high quality
and this competition is an incentive for all our producers to do better and to
position South Africa as one of the best quality producing countries in the
world,” said Giulio Bertrand, honourary member of the South African Olive Industry
Association, during his speech at the awards ceremony.
Bertrand, South African olive oil is “better than anywhere else in the world”.
is an estimated 8 000 hectares of olive trees in South Africa – 6 000 hectares of
which are situated in the Western Cape.
10 finalists for the Top Five awards are the top achievers from the South African Olive
Awards of the South African Olive Industry Association,
announced at the end of August.
The Winning Extra Virgin Olive OilsThe Top Five Awards for the best extra
virgin olive oils in South Africa come from producers Rio Largo, Willow Creek,
Morgenster, and Groote Vallei.
Two oils from the same producer
were in the top five – Rio Largo Premium Blend Extra Virgin Olive Oil (intense)
and the Rio Largo Gold Extra Virgin Olive Oil (medium).
Nick Wilkinson, owner of the Rio
Largo farm, situated between Worcester and Robertson, attributes the success of
his olive oil to an efficient and modern processing plant – with a
computer-managed system linked to Italy for expertise.
Wilkinson explains that
there are three senses involved in olive oil tasting.
“The idea is to get them to
He describes Rio Largo’s olive
oil as a “fruity nose, a balance of pungency and bitterness with a sense of
artichokes, green tomatoes, freshly cut grass and almonds”.
Willow CreekWillow Creek’s Arther Goodger
says that the secret behind the success of their Estate Blend Extra Virgin
Olive Oil is that the terroir
(microclimate) of the region is “very close to the Mediterranean climate”. The
farm is situated in the Nuy Valley, along the Langeberg mountain range in
MorgensterThe extra virgin olive oil from Morgenster is a blend of 10 varieties of olives.
Giulio Bertrand, owner of Morgenster, first visited South Africa in 1975. “I
wanted to produce an Italian olive oil in South Africa.” In 1994, Bertrand imported 2 000 olive trees
from Italy and planted them on his newly acquired estate in Somerset West.
Acland, of Groote Vallei says his boutique farm in Tulbach as a “small fish in
a massive pool”. The extra virgin cold pressed olive oil, which is exported to
Germany, has “a grassy peppery taste to the palate, with a kick of rocket when
you swallow it”.
What the judges look for:Reni
Hildenbrand, originally from Germany, and a member of the tasting panel who
judged the olive oils, says there are three main factors to look out for when
judging olive oils: Mouth feel, balance and harmony.
olive oil with an attractive aroma may, however leave an after-taste in your
mouth- this “mouth feel” needs to be balanced. The balance refers to
consistency between the level of fruitiness, bitterness and spiciness of the
olive oil. Finally, all three elements must be in harmony.
Quality Assurance SealHildenbrand
says it doesn’t matter which olive oil you buy, but strongly advises consumers
to look out for the Commitment to Compliance (CTC) seal on South African-produced olive oil bottles. This quality assurance seal ensures that what is on
the label is correct (if it says “Extra Virgin Olive Oil”, it is extra virgin),
and that the olive oil is free of defects. The date of harvesting and a best before
date should also be on the bottle – olive oil has a lifespan of 24 months from
the time of harvesting.
judge herself acknowledges that olive oil tasting is subjective. In the end,
says Hildebrand, the type of olive oil you decide to use will depend on your
The competition is closed.
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