South Island olive growers shine bright at 2023 New Zealand extra virgin olive oil awards.

by | Oct 3, 2023 | News

South Island’s olive oil producers have emerged as the champions of the 2023 New Zealand Extra Virgin Olive Oil Awards. Congratulations to Robinsons Bay Olives winner of Best in Show and Isobel Olives Picual winner of Best Boutique oil.

This prestigious event sponsored by HortiCentre Charitable Trust, was held in Napier, Hawke’s Bay on Saturday, September 30th. The evening successfully brings together growers and industry sponsors from across the country to celebrate excellence in the olive oil industry, recognising finest producers and their exceptional Olive oils.

The top awards for the 2023 New Zealand Extra Virgin Olive Oil Awards are as follows:

  • Best in Show – Robinsons Bay GB1 , Canterbury
  • Best Boutique – Isobel Olives Blend, Marlborough
  • Reserve Best in Show – Loopline Olives Picual, Wairarapa
  • Reserve Best Boutique – Olivo Koroneiki, Wairarapa
  • Best Flavoured Oil – The Olive Press, Pressed Gold – Meyer Lemon Agrumato, Wairarapa

Emma Glover, spokesperson for Olives NZ, expressed delight in the South Island securing the top two positions this year, closely followed by producers in the Wairarapa. She congratulated all winners on their achievements, attributing the top winner’s success to dedication and hard work by the growers, higher sunshine hours and favourable growing conditions in the South Island during the summer.

“New Zealand has a renowned reputation for producing exceptional Extra Virgin Olive Oil that can compete on the global stage. This year, despite challenging season, our olive oil industry continues to shine with 32 gold medals, 74 silver medals, and 6 bronze medals awarded out of 119 entries from all across New Zealand’s olive-growing regions,” said Glover. She noted New Zealand oils are known for their robust and intense flavours, however due to many regions unseasonably wetter conditions preceding and during harvesting time,  many of the oils produced this year are medium and delicate in flavour.

The distribution of medals by region is as follows: Wairarapa received 49 medals, Kāpiti 14, Canterbury 12, Nelson 8, Central Otago 7, Auckland 6, Waiheke Island 5, Marlborough 4, Northland 3, with Hawke’s Bay and Bay of Plenty each receiving 2.  The Awards were judged by two panels, each comprising of three experienced judges to International Olive Oil Council Panel (IOC) standards.   The six judges then re-judged all of the Best in Class winners to confirm the major winners.

Reni Hildenbrand, the head judge for 2023 from South Africa, praised the overall quality of the oils. Commenting from her experience in South Africa, high quality less intense oils appeal to a wider range of consumers. Hildenbrand is widely recognised for her contribution to the South African olive industry and has been tasting and judging Extra Virgin Olive Oils internationally since the year 2005.

The 2023 Winners

Best in Show – Robinsons Bay 

Robinsons Bay Olives, owned by Chris and Annette Moore, have been producing award-winning olive oil on the Banks Peninsula since 2006. Their winning entry was a harmonious blend of Manzanillo and Nabali Mouhansen olives, with fruity aromas on the nose followed by wonderfully balanced bitterness and pungency in the mouth.

Best Boutique – Isobel Olives Blend

Isobel Olives, a boutique grove in Rarangi, Marlborough, owned by Chris Piper, presented a stunning and well-balanced blend of Frantoio and Picholene oils, delivering intense aromas of green grass on the nose with a good transfer to the palate. Harmonious, complex & persistent. Delicious!!!

Reserve Best in Show – Loopline Olives Picual, Wairarapa

Loopline Olives, a commercial grove in Opaki, Wairarapa, owned by Stephen Davies Howard earned this award with their Picual varietal oil, noted for its well-balanced profile with lovely notes of tomato on the nose and excellent presence in the mouth.

Reserve Best Boutique – Olivo Koroneiki

Olivo is the oldest commercial olive grove in the Wairarapa, owned by Helen and John Meehan, received recognition for their delicate single varietal Koroneiki oil, characterized by its well-balanced and delicate nature.

Best Flavoured Oil – Pressed Gold, Meyer Lemon Agrumato

The Olive Press in Greytown, Wairarapa, under the brand Pressed Gold, impressed with its Meyer Lemon Agrumato flavoured oil, showcasing good intensity and purity of lemon the nose and in the mouth with a harmonious well-balanced base oil.

A complete list of the award entries and results can be found here.

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