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Australian extra virgin olive oils will once again affirm their superior quality at this year’s National Extra Virgin Olive Oil Awards as the industry’s largest olive oil show returns for a twelfth year.

Richard Gawel, research scientist at the Australian Wine Research Institute, will be chairing the judging process undertaken by over 20 accredited judges on Friday, 3 and Saturday, 4 October.

“As always, it is a great privilege to assist the capable judges in their task of searching out and rewarding the best extra virgin olive oils that Australia has to offer,” Gawel said.

“This year is particularly exciting for the olive industry as there is a growing recognition of the high quality of Australian extra virgin olive oil. This is reflected through the Australian Olive Association’s recent launch of the industry Code of Practice and Australian Extra Virgin brand.

“Australian consumers are lucky in that our local industry provides extra virgin olive oils with a variety of flavours, freshness and great health benefits.

“It will be interesting through this year’s National Awards to discover the outcomes of the 2008 harvest,” he added.

The most sought after award of the competition is the ‘Carol L’Heureux Award for Best Oil in Show’, which was last year awarded to Carol O’Neil from Cradle Coast Olives in Tasmania.

Other Awards categories are the ‘Best in Class’ with classes ranging from micro volumes of 50 litres to multi-estate grown with volumes greater than 5,000 litres. This year’s Awards also include flavoured oils (citrus and other flavoured oils), due to their popularity with consumers.

Gawel, who will be responsible for quality control of the judging, said the oils first have to undergo chemical testing to assess their eligibility.

“Prior to the judging, the oils are chemically tested to ensure the level of free fatty acid is maximum 0.8%. This is an indicator of good grove management and processing practices. The level of polyphenols is also tested to verify the oil’s style (mild, medium or robust),” Gawel said.

“During the two-day judging process, all the oils are blind tasted and judges undertake an organoleptic assessment based on the Australian Olive Association’s 20-point sensory scoring system,” he explained.

The Awards are expected to attract over 200 Australian extra virgin olive oil entries.

Australian extra virgin olive oil is the natural oil from quality olives that have been picked straight off the tree and extracted as soon as possible without the use of chemicals or excessive heat. This ensures that the oil’s remarkable health benefits, flavour and freshness are maximised.

Extra virgin olive oil is the most beneficial olive oil for health and wellbeing. It is rich and diverse in protective antioxidants which help lower bad cholesterol and maintain the beneficial HDL cholesterol.

The 12th National Extra Virgin Olive Oil Awards winners will be revealed at the Awards dinner of the Australian Olive Expo on Tuesday, 28 October at the Rydges Lakeside, Canberra, which will be hosted by celebrity chef Peter Howard.

This gala evening will honour the best in the industry and will bring together olive growers and industry experts from across the country.

For more information, contact:

* Australian Olive Expo, (02) 4353 9714,

* Australian Olive Association, (02) 9863 8735,

* Australian Extra Virgin, (02) 9863 8735,