Savantes North American Extra Virgin Olive Oil Tasters Championship

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Participants in the recent Savantes Program in New York (25-27 February) have had a taste of the pressure expected at the inaugural North American Extra Virgin Olive Oil Tasters Championship. The Championship will be held in Rosemont near Chicago on 26th August.

The Savantes program in Manhattan New York took the usual course of familiarizing the tasters with the different styles and flavors of extra virgin olive oils from producing regions worldwide. Some attention is given to classification and defects but the general approach is that if olive oil users learn what tastes good, they will discard oils that have defects.

Another approach which resonated with participants was that when evaluating an extra virgin olive oil your opinion will impact on the livelihood of all those involved in producing and supplying it. Therefore utmost care should be taken in the evaluation, respect given to the product and only when defects are a certainty should there be a pronouncement to that effect.

As one participant commented after the program, ‘Above all, I was affected by your ethical and “no nonsense” approach to the industry, to tasting, and to relaying information. When you began by telling us to be careful what we say and to whom we judge, because in the oil is someone’s livelihood, I was touched by your respect for both the product and producer and I felt instantly like I was in the right place’.

Following the tasting skill test two participant’s achieved Associate Savantes status, Hayley Stevens Miller from New York and Marjan Symington from Australia.

The next Savantes program is being planned for Europe in late October or early November – in either southern Spain or central Italy.

Meanwhile Savantes are concentrating their attention on the Spend Wisely on Olive Oil Conference and associated Tasters Championship scheduled for Chicago, USA on August 25th and 26th. Details are available at www.oliveoilconference.com

Simon Field, www.savantes.com

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