Brisbane Show awards gold for olive oils

Posted by Nicole Eckersley on 15th July 2010

The gold medal winners in the 2010 Royal Queensland Food & Wine Show’s Olive Oil Competition were announced this week, with top honours going to products from WA, NSW and Victoria.

Table olives were in competition for the first time this year, alongside extra virgin olive oils and flavoured and infused oils. A total of 71 entrants from around Australia – 46 oils and 25 table varieties – yielded three gold medals, plus seven silver and 23 gold.

Best Olive Oil of Show went to Aminya Olive Oil, made from Correggiolo olives in Jingera, NSW, and exhibited by Tri Start Trading from Eastwood, Sydney.

A second gold medal went to Victoria’s Cobram Estate, with a Hojiblanca-variety oil.

The gold medal for Best Table Olive of Show was awarded to a Greek-style green Sevilano olive from Eagle Vale Olives, in Geraldton, WA.

The winners were chosen by Australian olive industry heavyweight Mrs Margi Kirkby, and guest judge, olive expert and chef/restauranteur Nino Zoccali, according to Australian Olive Association competition guidelines.

The judges rated essential characteristics like bitterness, pungency and fruit flavours, which reflect the oil’s quality, variety, growing climate, and most importantly the production process that made it. All entries were produced from Australian olives harvested this year, which the judges declared a good year, better than last year’s harvest.

With many popular olive oils from Europe sold with the aid of agricultural subsidies, the judges said that local oils are much better value.

“The majority of Australian extra virgin olive oil is of a high quality compared to the rest of the world…about 95% of our production is extra virgin olive oil,” said Chief judge Margi Kirkby.

Zoccali felt that the gently extracted, first run extra virgin oil was the best, because “any processing kills character… you need those anti-oxidants to give the oil shelf life.”

The judges said that the development of the Australian olive industry was an exciting time, exploring varieties and technology.

“We’re all still learning. Olive judging is getting better in Australia. We’re different to Europe because of local conditions. The premium Italian industry is a boutique cottage industry, while we tend to be larger,” said Zoccali.