Liquid gold: these are SA's top 10 extra virgin olive oils

The judges of the ABSA Olive Oil Awards aren't the only ones who are impressed by the quality of our local products, award-winning chefs are too

05 November 2020 - 09:34
SA's top 10 extra virgin olive oils as named by the judges of the 2020 ABSA Olive Oil Awards.
SA's top 10 extra virgin olive oils as named by the judges of the 2020 ABSA Olive Oil Awards.
Image: Supplied/SA Olive

When it comes to extra virgin olive oil, SA is producing some fantastic liquid gold as reflected by the results of the 2020 ABSA Olive Oil Awards.

The 104 entries, of which 33 were awarded gold medals, indicate how far the local industry has come in crafting fine olive oils, with some going on to win awards in the international arena.

The entries were judged by a panel of expert olive oil tasters led by Wellington olive and wine farmer Reni Hildenbrand in a blind tasting.

Here are the extra virgin olive oils named SA's top 10, which were chosen from this year's gold medal winners:

  • Wildekrans Endless EVOO (Medium)
  • Rio Largo Gold (Delicate)
  • Kleinbergskloof Frantoio (Delicate)
  • Chaloner Peregrine Limited Edition (Medium)
  • Zoetigheyd Frantoio (Medium)
  • PG Fruit Pai Parakore EVOO (Medium)
  • Cederberg Olives Frantoio (Delicate)
  • Porterville Andante Intenso (Intense)
  • Mardouw XXV (Intense)
  • Morgenster EVOO (Medium)

WHAT TOP CHEFS THINK OF SA OLIVE OILS

The judges of the ABSA Olive Oil Awards aren't the only ones who are impressed by the quality of our local products, award-winning chefs are too.

Chef Fortunato Mazzone of Pretoria's Forti Grill and Bar says he's the “biggest, biggest fan” of SA olive oils and prefers them to their Italian counterparts because he knows the local standards are high.

“A lot of Italian extra virgin olive oils that land in SA are blended oils and cheap because they aren’t of superior quality,” he explains. “Often by the time they get here they're old, and sometimes even rancid.”

Another reason Mazzone believes local is lekker is that our extra virgin olive oils are well priced. “They [cost] a fraction of a good imported olive oil, so it makes sense to use them.”

“I’ve tasted so many good local brands,” he adds, naming those from Saronsberg, Morgenster, Tokara and Willow Creek.

The last two producers are also highly rated by chef David Higgs of Marble and Saint restaurants in Joburg.

“The Willow Creek olive oil I use is not too intense, which I prefer, and I find it has a nice balance. A premium virgin olive oil made by Tokara is another favourite. In saying that, there are so many other great SA olive oils.”

In fact, Higgs is proud to say that he only uses local olive oils. “SA’s olive oil industry has come so far in a short space of time and is producing incredible oils, which stand up to those made by the rest of the world.”


BUY THE BEST

To purchase quality olive oil, it’s important to know how to decipher the label on the bottle:

Extra virgin olive oil aka EVOO: This is the highest grade of virgin olive oil derived by a cold extraction, below 30°C. No solvents or refining methods are use.

Intensity of flavour: The flavour of olive oils can be described as delicate, medium or intense. The flavour is influenced by the olive cultivar or blend of cultivars, the maturity of the fruit, area of origin, and climatic conditions.

SA Olive seal: This seal is the best indicator of a quality local extra virgin olive oil; it guarantees that what you see on the label is what you'll be getting in the bottle. It's issued by SA Olive, an association representing the local olive industry.