The 2021 Absa Top 10 Olive Oil Awards were celebrated on Friday 15 October at the picturesque Drosberg, situated on the slopes of the Klein Drakenstein mountains. With the majestic Paarl rock as a backdrop and Table Mountain looming in the distance, and with former Olympian sprinter and olive oil ambassador Geraldine Pillay-Viret as MC, the venue could not have been better suited to this celebration of truly South African wonders.
The partnership behind the Absa Top 10 Olive Oil Awards dates back to 2013, when SA Olive and Absa joined forces to launch the Absa Top 5 Olive Oil Awards as an extension to the annual SA Olive Awards. Since 2017, this prestigious recognition of the pursuit of excellence by South African olive oil producers has become known as the Absa Top 10 Olive Oil Awards.
The partnership between Absa and SA Olive demonstrates Absa’s commitment to supporting South African agriculture and promoting the development of South African Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO).
It is a requirement of the Absa Top 10 Olive Oil Awards that the winning EVOOs be made by ten different producers. This reaffirms Absa’s intent to support the development of the South African olive oil industry by maximising exposure and opportunities for local EVOO producers.
In the 2021 edition of the SA Olive Awards which was held in August-September, 113 South African EVOOs were rigorously assessed by a Judging Panel through a strictly controlled blind tasting. The highest-scoring oils out of the 30 gold medal winners became contenders for the Absa Top 10 Olive Oil Awards. These olive oils were judged and the winners selected by a panel of revered tasters and local experts, led by olive oil authority and Panel Leader Dr Aldo Mazzini who had flown in from Italy to preside over the judging.
The Absa Top 10 Olive Oil accolades were awarded to:
- Willow Creek: Willow Creek Directors Reserve EVOO
- Lions Creek: Lions Creek Karoo Blend EVOO
- De Rustica Olive Estate: De Rustica Estate Collection Frantoio
- Olive Boutique: Olive Boutique Frantoio
- Mardouw: XXV Intense
- Porterville Olives: Andante Intenso
- Serrado: Serrado EVOO
- Lapithos: LapithosFamily Reserve
- Rio Largo Estate: Rio Largo Premium
- Kleinbergskloof Olive Estate: Kleinbergskloof Olive Estate Blend
John Tshabalala, Absa’s Managing Executive Business Bank Western & Eastern Cape commented: “The Covid-19 pandemic has had a devastating impact on the South African economy. Many industries, including the olive oil industry has faced unprecedented challenges during this period. The local oil industry has shown great resilience in overcoming these challenges by continuing to showcase excellence in producing uniquely and proudly South African extra virgin olive oil and supporting hundreds of jobs while making a meaningful contribution to the economy and communities. Absa is once again proud to be partnering with the SA Olive Industry Association to present the 9th Top 10 Olive Oil Awards. This event is truly a highlight on our calendar and underscores our commitment to support the olive oil industry and our producers. We would like to wish all the finalists and winners great future success.”
SA Olive Chairman, Nick Wilkinson remarked that the 2021 season had delivered olive oils of excellent quality, many of which had already been recognised internationally. “There is undoubtedly a growing space for top quality oil produced by smaller producers with smart attention to detail. It’s time to educate consumers to appreciate the taste of good olive oil along with its many health benefits. We need to push our local consumers to buy local and recognise quality over quantity. The perceived premium price is a cheap price to pay for our own wellbeing and keeping South Africans employed”. Mr Wilkinson thanked Absa for continuing to believe in the South African olive oil industry with their ongoing sponsorship by saying, “You help enormously in continuing to reward our winners with growing market awareness and genuinely add value to our local industry”.