Top Greek olive oils at Athena International Competition hail from various areas

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By Lisa Radinovsky from Greek Liquid Gold.

At the 8th edition of the Athena International Olive Oil Competition in 2023, 525 samples from 23 countries were assessed by 29 judges from 14 nations. Tasting the samples at this year’s competition base in Kavala, Eastern Macedonia and Thrace, northeastern Greece, the judges awarded 159 prizes to a diverse set of Greek extra virgin and flavoured olive oils.

The Best of Greece award, Best of Epirus award, and a Double Gold medal went to the two-year-old brand of Julia Antoniou and Thanasis Christou, Julia extra virgin olive oil. Discovered by a journalist at Christou’s Bahari restaurant, Julia was ranked among the top 50 olive oils in Greece by a prominent Greek agricultural paper in 2022. Julia is an unfiltered oil made from Konservolia olives grown in Arta, Epirus, in the western part of the country. Although the Konservolia olives of Arta yield less than half as much oil per olive as the most common Greek variety, Koroneiki, Christou and his team believe the excellent result is worth the extra effort and expense.

Julia Olive Grove.

Christou explained to Greek Liquid Gold that the century-old trees in their hilly family olive grove thrive at an altitude of 330 meters, with “full sunshine, low humidity, and a dry summer.” He attributes his company’s success to “love and care for the olive trees throughout the year, from fruit setting to picking (hand picking only, and only healthy fruit)” in their rainfed groves, and to their attention to proper transportation of the olives and immediate extraction of the oil after the harvest.

Athena 2023.

The Laconiko team also pays careful attention to detail throughout the cultivation, production, transportation, and storage processes, refusing to take shortcuts. “We are so in love with the olive trees,” said Diamantis Pierrakos. “We completely immersed ourselves in this. The goal is always to better it.” They seem to be succeeding: with oil from olives grown in their family groves in Laconia, Peloponnese, this established brand added ten new Athena awards to their long list of prizes, including six Golds, a Double Gold medal, and the competition’s Best Flavored or Infused Olive Oil distinction for Laconiko Meyer Lemon olive oil.

Starting with award-winning Koroneiki extra virgin olive oil, Laconiko uses a co-milling process for fruits that are in season at the time of the olive harvest, throwing in whole citrus fruits along with the olives for some of their flavored olive oils. For plants not in season when olives are, they use natural fruit or herbal oils to ensure the best possible quality. Both their extra virgin and flavored olive oils are shipped to temperature-controlled warehouses at their base in the USA in the cold winter months, to preserve the quality and health benefits they are determined to offer their customers. “We’re a company with real people with a lot of heart,” Pierrakos emphasized. “We are so passionate in our line of work and what we do.”

Another big winner at the Athena International Olive Oil Competition (IOOC) was Mediterre Eurofood, with four Gold medals, three Silvers, and three Bronze awards, plus a Best Olympia Variety distinction for their Omphacium extra virgin olive oil from the area near Ancient Olympia in Elis, Peloponnese. As Konstantinos Papadopoulos explains, this experienced company’s “careful study, hard work, and dedication to what we do” has enabled the Mediterre team “to highlight the special organoleptic characteristics of our region’s extra virgin olive oil.”

Mediterre Eurofood.

Considering extra virgin olive oil “a national product of Greece,” Papadopoulos and his team are proud to help “Greek olive oil become more and more established in the field of international trade” and to contribute to Greece’s “competitive place among other countries worldwide” in the olive oil sector. Papadopoulos believes this is especially important since “extra virgin olive oil is a product of very high nutritional value. It is rich in phenols and beneficial fatty acids, so its consumption on a daily basis stimulates the immune system and provides health and well-being. Therefore, even now that it is rather expensive, we could say that it is a ‘luxury’ worth having.”

Farther south on the island of Crete, the son of the owner of “the oldest olive mill in the region” founded El. Renieris & Co in 1982. As Alexis Perdikakis explains, company founder Eleftherios Renieris “immersed himself in the art and science of olive oil production” alongside his father as he grew up. He learned to consider everything that contributes to olive oil quality: variety, climate, and soil conditions, as well as meticulous farming practices, harvest timing and methods, prompt processing after harvest, and careful oil extraction. One of the results: Renieris captured three Gold awards and one Silver for their 100% Koroneiki extra virgin olive oils at this year’s Athena competition.

“Through years of hands-on experience and a passion for excellence, Renieris acquired a wealth of knowledge and expertise,” according to Perdikakis. Working with a skilled team that “brings their expertise to every step of the production process,” he combined this with a “relentless pursuit of improvement, combining tradition with innovation and his unwavering commitment to quality. Renieris dedicates himself to refining his cultivation methods, exploring advanced harvesting techniques, and perfecting his extraction and blending processes.”

Highlighting a different olive oil producing region each year by changing the location selected for judging, the Athena IOOC also emphasizes that even the small country of Greece offers numerous olive varieties in many different regions. Athena includes both the variety and the region in its award lists and awards “Best of” distinctions by variety and by region. The competition’s top Greek winners typically hail from a number of locations, showing that consumers can find high quality Greek olive oil throughout the country.

Top Greek winners at the 2023 Athena International Olive Oil Competition

EVOO – PRODUCER – VARIETAL MAKE UP – REGION – FLAVOR (if any)

Greek Double Gold Medal Winners 2023

Julia – Julia – Konservolia of Arta 100% – Epirus, Arta
Laconiko Meyer Lemon – Laconiko – Koroneiki 100% – Peloponnese, Laconia  – Meyer Lemon

Greek Gold Medal Winners 2023

Ktima Olon Throumpoelia – Ktima Olon – Throumpoelia 100% – Aegean Islands, Lemnos     
Physis of Crete – Physis of Crete – Koroneiki 100% – Crete, Lasithi     
Ena Ena Organic – Hellenic Fields – Koroneiki 100% – Peloponnese, Elis     
Ages – Kyklopas Elaiotriveio Argyri Kelidi – Makris 100% – Thrace, Evros     
Omphacium – Mediterre Eurofood – Olympia 100% – Peloponnese, Elis     
Terra Creta Organic – Melissa – Kikizas – Koroneiki 100% – Crete, Chania        
Korona Organic – Physis of Crete – Koroneiki 100% – Crete, Lasithi     
Argali Greek Organic – Giovanni Bianchi – Argali – Koroneiki 100% – Peloponnese, Messenia     
Organic Drops Oregano – Pellas Nature – Koroneiki 100% – Macedonia, Pella – Oregano   
Terra Creta Grand Cru – Melissa – Kikizas – Koroneiki 100% – Crete, Chania     
Olive Tentation – Olive Tentation – Athinoelia 50%, Koroneiki 50% – Peloponnese, Laconia       
Castello del Barone – Ranis Anagnostopoulos N. Spiridon – Koutsourelia 100% – Peloponnese, Achaea   
Theotoky Organic Early Harvest – Theotoky Estate – Lianolia of Corfu 100% – Ionian Islands, Corfu (Kerkyra)      
Vatsiko – Eleonas – Koroneiki 100% – Peloponnese, Messenia    
Laconiko Clementine – Laconiko – Koroneiki 100% – Peloponnese, Laconia – Clementine  
Argo Early Harvest – Argo – Olive of Chalkidiki 100% – Macedonia, Kavala     
Kreta Natura Eleones Manolaki – Evosmos, Production, Bottling and Trading of Olive Oil – Koroneiki 80%, Tsounati 20% – Crete, Rethymno     
Laconiko Lemon Thyme – Laconiko – Koroneiki 100% – Peloponnese, Laconia – Meyer Lemon, Thyme  
Akalli – Akalli – Hondroelia of Crete 100% – Crete, Heraklion     
Renieris Estate – Renieris – Koroneiki 100% – Crete, Chania     
Mediterre Limone – Mediterre Eurofood – Koroneiki 100% – Peloponnese, Elis – Lemon  
Eleava – Eleava – Koroneiki 100% – Peloponnese, Messenia         
Omphacium Organic – Mediterre Eurofood – Olympia 100% – Peloponnese, Elis     
Maleas Estate Premium Blend – Maleas Estate – Olive of Chalkidiki 40%, Megaritiki 60% – Macedonia, Drama      
Cretanthos Bio – Cretanthos – Koroneiki 100% – Crete, Rethymno       
Diaphano – L’air – Ô, My Olive – Olive of Chalkidiki 100% – Macedonia, Kavala     
Mavroudis Golden Collection Premium – Mavroudis Corfu Family Olive Oil – Lianolia of Corfu 100% – Ionian Islands, Corfu (Kerkyra)       
Mavroudis Gourmet Garlic – Mavroudis Corfu Family Olive Oil – Lianolia of Corfu 50%, Koroneiki 50% – Ionian Islands, Corfu (Kerkyra) – Garlic  
Laconiko Garlic – Laconiko – Koroneiki 100% – Peloponnese, Laconia – Garlic  
Ena Ena Superior Organic – Hellenic Fields – Koroneiki 100% – Peloponnese, Elis     
Calypso – Calypso – Makris 100% – Thrace, Evros     
Pangaea Agoureleo – Pangaea Olive oil – Hondroelia of Chalkidiki 100% – Macedonia, Kavala     
Neféli Early Harvest – Medbest – Koroneiki 100% – Crete, Chania     
Deluxe – Sansibar – Renieris – Koroneiki 100% – Crete, Chania     
Oiakion – Οiakion Estate Karyoti – Koroneiki 100% – Thrace, Xanthi     
enKardia Premium – EnKardia – Koroneiki 100% – Peloponnese, Laconia     
Efkrato – Silvergreen – Tsounati 100% – Crete, Rethymno     
Liokareas Cold Fused Chili Pepper – Liokareas – Koroneiki 100% – Peloponnese, Messenia – Chili Pepper
Gaea Planet – Gaea Products – Athinoelia 100% – Peloponnese, Laconia     
Laconiko Lime – Laconiko – Koroneiki 100% – Peloponnese, Laconia – Lime  
Terra Zakros – Nikolaos Ailamakis – Koroneiki 100% – Crete, Lasithi     
Oleus Premium Early Harvest – Lamda Foods – Local Pierias 25%, Arbequina 50%, Megaritiki 15%, Agioritiki 10% – Macedonia, Pella   
Midas Premium – Renieris – Koroneiki 100% – Crete, Chania
Thallon – Thallon – Hondroelia of Chalkidiki 100% – Macedonia, Chalkidiki       
Eliama Daily Value Premium – Ellis Farm – Koroneiki 100% – Crete, Heraklion     
Fáris – Agrexpo – Koroneiki 100% – Peloponnese, Messenia     
Laconiko Mushroom Thyme – Laconiko – Koroneiki 100% – Peloponnese, Laconia – Portobello Mushroom, Thyme  
Ktima Olon Koroneiki – Ktima Olon – Koroneiki 100% – Aegean Islands, Lemnos     
Minos – Renieris – Koroneiki 100% – Crete, Chania     
Brigada – Psarros Family – Koroneiki 100% – Peloponnese, Elis     
The Governor – Olive Fabrica – Lianolia of Corfu 100% – Ionian Islands, Corfu (Kerkyra)     
Pathos – Pathos – Koroneiki 100% – Crete, Heraklion     
Olympian Myth Robust – A.M.G. Karabelas Family – Koroneiki 100% – Peloponnese, Elis     
Kladeos – Lapithas Elaiourgiki – Koroneiki 100% – Peloponnese, Elis      
Theion Elaion Organic – Biositia – Koroneiki 100% – Crete, Lasithi       
Elaikos Megaritiki – Vatkali Efrosini – Megaritiki 100% – Macedonia, Kavala     
Amalgam – Vatkali Efrosini – Chalkidikis 80%, Thassitiki 5%, Koroneiki 5%, Agrielia 6%, Olive of Amfissa 4% – Macedonia, Kavala     
Mediterre Oregano – Mediterre Eurofood – Koroneiki 100% – Peloponnese, Elis – Oregano  
Laconiko Blood Orange – Laconiko – Koroneiki 100% – Peloponnese, Laconia – Blood Orange  
One Root – Cretan Heritage – Koroneiki 100% – Crete, Chania  

There were also many silver and bronze awards for Greek oils; on the Medals Results page, one can search by country—Greece.

*Originally published on Greek Liquid Gold: Authentic Extra Virgin Olive Oil (greekliquidgold.com). See that site for recipes with olive oil, photos from Greece, agrotourism and food tourism suggestions, and olive oil news and information.

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