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This year the Awards have, for the first time, an International judge and panel leader in Prof. Luciano Scarselli from Tuscany, Italy
This year the Awards have, for the first time, an International judge and panel leader in Prof. Luciano Scarselli from Tuscany, Italy

The search is on for SA's best olive oils


Aug 19th 2011, 09:39

South Africa’s top olive oils have just been put to the test at the Nederburg Auction Complex in Paarl during the judging of the sixth olive oil competition presented by SA Olive, the voluntary association representing the SA olive industry. Exciting news is that an internationally renowned judge has joined the formidable South African judging panel. In addition, the competition drew 58% more entries than previous years.  

According to Professor Luciano Scarselli, an olive oil expert and president of the Italian tasters association for olive oil (AS.C.O.E), the South African olive oil industry has undergone an impressive revolution since he first visited the country twelve years ago. “The majority of olive oils currently available can compete with the best in the world and shows far less defects than when I first visited,” he explains. “Thanks to initiatives such as this competition, driven by SA Olive, and a great pursuit of quality and knowledge, the local industry has grown with leaps and bounds.” He feels that the development of the industry can also be attributed to a growing awareness amongst local olive oil consumers and the fact that old methods made space for modern technology.

Other panel members include seven experts from the local industry who have all completed Professor Scarselli’s judging course and passed the international Threshold test to be accepted to this panel. “’An olive oil judge has to be able to differentiate between first-class oils and those that are less good,” says Reni Hildenbrand, one of the judges and an olive oil producer of Wellington. “You have to be able to correctly identify any defects and make a quick ruling – skills that are honed by years of tasting experience.”

Mr. Leonard Arangies, SA Olive manager, explains that olive oil is judged for its olfactory and taste/gustatory characteristics. In other words this liquid gold – as it’s also called – is tasted blind and judged according to the quality, balance and complexity of its aroma as well as its taste. “Consumers should know that an olive oil that is honoured with any medal, whether it is a double gold or bronze, is a product of excellent quality,” he says.

Some 45 olive oil producers – the most ever – have entered their oils to be tasted by the highly qualified team of judges. Entries take part in three categories, namely Intense, Medium and Delicate.

“Some of the oils show excellent complexity and deserve gold and even double gold medals,” says Prof Scarselli. “I’ve found that the delicate and medium oils are of superb quality. The intense oils are indeed less green and intense on the nose than we are accustomed to in Italy, but nonetheless excellent.”

Those curious about the results will have to be patient until the 31st of August when the winners will be made known. The Olive Achiever of the Year award is sponsored by Absa for the 6th consecutive year and will also be announced during this event. The various categories have been generously sponsored as follows: Pierralisi sponsors the Intense category, while Alfa Laval sponsors the Medium category and Oliomio TEM the category for Delicate olive oils.

For more information on the competition, contact SA Olive at tel (021) 870 2900, email or visit

Read more about: sa olive | olive oil | olive | oil | supplier news | fmcg

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