At the Australian olive oil industry’s night of nights on 27 October in Canberra, the awards were announced for the nation’s – if not the world’s – most outstanding extra virgin olive oils (EVOO) for 2009.

The annual National EVOO Show is now regarded as the benchmark, the most prestigious showcase of Australian olive oils, attracting exhibits from all olive oil producing regions in Australia, from the Margaret River district in West Australia, to the well-established groves of South Australia, the world’s largest groves in northern Victoria, the Hunter Valley and Mudgee district in NSW, and the smaller groves scattered through Tasmania.

This year the show attracted a record 210 exhibits across Australia, most (113) in the single-estate class producing over 200 litres, the class into which a number of Tasmanian groves now fall, although some still fit in the micro-volume class (50 – 199 litres). Other classes include multi-estate groves and flavoured oils.

Two Tasmanian oils, from Lentara Grove in the Tamar Valley and Forth Valley Grove in the north west, won gold medals in the most competitive single estate section, placing them in the top rank of Australian premium olive oils. Both were tested with free-fatty acid levels of 0.11, well below the limit of 0.8 required for classification as extra virgin, and also below the average of all qualifying exhibits. Lentara’s oil was also well above the average polyphenol level of exhibits, an indicator of high nutritional value.

Another Tasmanian oil, from Cradle Coast Grove in the north west, won gold in the micro-volume class.

All three Tasmanian oils scored 17 of a maximum 20 points judged across a range of organoleptic qualities, after being tested on international standards of EVOO. These results were only exceeded by two other of the 210 entries, one with a total of 18 and one with a total of 17.5.

Tasmanian EVOO is now consistently stamping its mark at the highest level of quality, the three groves mentioned here and others also winning awards across the country in other shows. Lentara Grove and the southern Tasmanian Ashbolt Grove also won Vogue Produce Award gold medals earlier in 2009.

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Pictures: From Peter and Di Henning’s Lentara Grove, Tamar Valley