Each year since 2000 the International Olive Council (IOC) hosts arguably the world’s most coveted competition for olive oil, the Mario Solinas Quality Award. The award, which is granted only to the top-scoring oils from around the world, is named after the late Professor Mario Solinas, who did so much in the field of research, working closely with the IOC to standardise quality criteria.
The aim of organising this competition is to encourage individual producers, producer associations and packers in the producing countries to market extra virgin olive oils displaying harmonious organoleptic characteristics and to encourage consumers to recognise and appreciate the sensory attributes of such oils.
In the 15th edition of the awards (2015), 111 oils from 7 countries competed, which was slightly down from last year possibly due to problematic crop in many large producing countries in this year.
The oils are classified according to the intensity of their type of fruitiness before being evaluated by a number of IOC-recognised panels according to a special 100-point score sheet which marked the oils for their olfactory, gustatory and retro-nasal sensations as well as for their harmony, complexity and persistence. The 24 top-scoring oils in each fruitiness section went through as finalists for assessment by an international panel of judges, which selected the winners of the first prize of the Award for 2014 and also proposed second and third prize-winners.
This year, the big winners were producers from Spain and Portugal, with first prizes going to:
- Finca La Torre of Spain – Category: Intense green fruitiness;
- SCA Almazaras de la Subbética of Spain– Category: Medium green fruitiness;
- Casa de Santo Amaro of Portugal – Category: Mild green fruitiness; and
- Victor Guedes, S.A. of Portugal – Category: Ripe fruitiness.
The awards were presented on June 29th for the first time with the ceremony being at the Fancy Food Show in New York City.
Oils entered into the Mario Solinas awards must have a minimum quantity of 3000 litres produced, which is to be sealed in a tank during the award judging. After the prizes are awarded, participants may unseal the tank holding the batch of oil entered and winners are allowed to announce the prize on the labels of the extra virgin olive oil belonging to the same batch as the winning sample using a special logo available from the IOC Executive Secretariat for this purpose.
A complete list of winners can be downloaded here: Mario Solinas Awards 2015
Source: International Olive Council