Swirl, Sip, Slurp!

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The Urban Hotel hosts the 16th Annual Extra Virgin Olive Oil Awards

 The Nations best oils are judged in St Kilda

Around 190 of the nation’s finest oils were swirled, sipped and slurped at the 16th Annual Extra Virgin Olive Oil Awards Competition, held recently at the Urban Hotel in Fitzroy st, St Kilda.

Twenty experienced judges from around the country converged on the Urban to taste a wide variety of the nation’s offerings from the 2012 season. Australian Olive Association CEO, Lisa Rowntree said: “even though we are about twenty oils shy of last years entries, the quality of the oils this year has been outstanding. We’ve had an increase in single estate oils and in the flavoured oil categories”. The head judge was once again Mr Richard Gawel, from Adelaide, who has been judging the National show, as well as other shows around the country, for many years. This year the Chief Steward was Trudi Michels, also from South Australia, assisted by Leana Head. Ms Rowntree said: “a lot of preparation goes into ensuring that the oils are given the best chance of being fairly judged and the girls have done an amazing job; everything went really well”.

The process of judging oils is an interesting one and it’s not for the faint hearted. Judges are required to have undergone training and those with proven palates are asked to become judges in the National Show. They must have a really good understanding of oils and the different flavours and characteristics of varietal oils, they also need to be able to spot a defect and describe what that defect is. The criteria, for assessment, that judges base their decision on is: intensity, fruitiness, and balance in complexity.

Each entrant gives their oils a secret code that is known only by the Head Steward, then it is decanted into plain green bottles and re-labelled with their class and exhibit number. The oils are blind tasted so that judges don’t know whose oil they taste, the steward takes great care to ensure that judges who have entered their own oils are not involved in judging that particular class.

The AOA’s EVOO Competition is now in its 16th year and is recognised as the leading olive oil competition in the country. Three years ago the AOA  also introduced their National Table Olive Competition which was judged in Adelaide in early September. The Head Judge was Michelle Wirthenshon and she was assisted by Mr Peter McFarlane, both from South Australia. The winners of both competitions will be announced at a gala dinner at the Lakes Resort Hotel in South Australia on the 31st of October this year.

Reported by Regan Stoneman with assistance from Ms Lisa Rowntree (CEO,  Australian Olive Oil Assocition).

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