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Dwarda Ridge Estate of Boddington won the Best WA Table Olive and Don Vica Pty Ltd of Fremantle won the Best of Show in the 2008 West Australian Olive Council (WAOC) Table Olive Competition.

Commenting at an awards function at Edgecombe Brothers Winery, Henley Brook, Professor Stan Kailis, Chief Judge and Chair of the judging panel, said he was pleased this year to award gold medals to three products, silver to 10 and bronze to seven.

“That 80% of entries were awarded medals indicates improved quality of table olives and it’s encouraging to have entries from as far as New Zealand and Queensland,” he said.

There were 26 entries in six classes: kalamata; naturally black, excluding kalamata; green Spanish style; green Sicilian style, brine treated; flavoured or spiced; olive pastes and tapenades.

In each class, judges evaluated attributes such as flavour (bitterness, saltiness and acidity), aroma, appearance, texture and taste.

Dwarda Ridge Estate won gold and Best WA Table Olive for a lye treated green Spanish style Manzanillo, described by the judges as a good, firm olive product, with a subtle aroma and good texture.

Don Vica won gold and Best of Show in the flavoured or spiced class for its Chalkidikis olives, which had excellent texture in the mouth, strong flavours and good spice mix.

The other gold medal went to Merrick and Sons of York for a kalamata tapenade, described as succulent, with pleasant aroma and packed with flavour, with the accompanying anchovies and capers well balanced with the olives.

The judging panel, comprising Thelma Burnett, Maggie Edmonds, Daniel Walton, Tim Martella, Mike Baker, Isabelle Okis, Meredith Skinner and Hui Jun Chih, was trained and led by Professor Kailis.

It had two training sessions before judging product from each entrant at the Faculty of Natural and Agricultural Sciences at The University of Western Australia.

On judging day, the panel was divided into two groups, each assessing half the samples.

Each group, after a discussion, moderated their scores and came to a consensus score for each product, before the panel chair, Professor Kailis, independently evaluated all entries. These scores were revealed after each subgroup reported their scores.

“After the panel discussed all the scores, which varied very little, a final score, out of 20 for each product, was agreed and medals allocated on the basis of gold (17.0 to 20.0), silver (15.0 to 16.9) and bronze (13.0 to 14.9),” Professor Kailis explained.

WAOC competition administrator and olive grower, Helen Grant of Balingup said the competition was a great opportunity for olive producers to benchmark their product.

“It also showcases the outstanding quality and freshness of locally grown and produced olives and grower and producer participation ensures that quality table olive products continue to be available to consumers,” she said.

WAOC President, John Wholley of Margaret River, said the competition was all about improving the quality and image of olives up and down the chain, ultimately to ensure consumers have a memorable, quality and safe eating experience.

The 2008 WAOC Table Olive Competition was sponsored by Supa Stik and Cospak and supported by Matters of Taste and The Herdsman.