10 Oct

2006 Olives New Zealand National Extra Virgin Olive Oil Awards

The record number of entries in this, the sixth year of the Olives New Zealand Extra Virgin Olive Oil Awards reflects the expansion of the industry. The entries also reflect the outstanding quality of extra virgin olive oils produced in this country.

Another record was set, this by Matapiro Olives of Hawke’s Bay who for the third year running won Best in Show for one of their oils – Matapiro “Koroneiki.” Both Roberto Zecca, a highly regarded international olive oil judge who was again the international guest judge at the competition and Margaret Edwards, chief judge and also an international olive oil judge, commented on the outstanding quality of the oil.

This year’s competition attracted 91 entries with 51% of them being awarded a gold medal – exceptional by international standards. Roberto Zecca says this is a true indication of the incredibly high quality of New Zealand extra virgin olive oils.

He was also extremely impressed with the venue for the awards judging that was held at the Mt Albert HortResearch Sensory Science Facility in Auckland, describing it as one of the best he has seen in the world. “The use of a dedicated sensory laboratory and trained staff eliminates errors and allows all the oils in the blind judging to compete on an equal basis” Zecca said.

“For the first time in the history of the competition, the number of entries meant 2 judging panels were used” Margaret Edwards said. “We are fortunate to be able to draw on the members of the trained Olives New Zealand Sensory Panel to augment the judging panel and ensure judging is of the highest standard and in line with international competitions.”

Gold medals were spread throughout the olive growing regions of the country with 11 going to the Wairarapa, 9 to Hawke’s Bay, 7 each to Nelson and Marlborough, 3 each to Waiheke Island, Canterbury, and Kapiti, and 2 each to Northland and Auckland.

Matapiro Olives won the Best in Class in the Single Varietal and Medium Classes. The Best in Class Intense award went to Kilrae Olives from the Wairarapa.
The Awards were presented at a gala dinner in Wellington on 7 October.

All oils entered in this year’s Awards met the criteria for the Olives New Zealand Certification programme. Oils that meet the strict standards are guaranteed as extra virgin and can display the Olives New Zealand red seal on their bottles giving consumers assurance that they are purchasing a high-quality product.

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