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Wairarapa olive oil producer LOT EIGHT wins ‘Best in Class’ two years running at the Olives NZ Extra virgin Olive Oil awards.

Boutique olive producer LOT EIGHT demonstrated its commitment to consistent high standards of quality and delivery this season, winning its second Best in Class award for the Artemesia (Red Label) Extra Virgin Olive Oil at the Olives NZ awards.

LOT EIGHT is one of only two producers in New Zealand to achieve back to back Best in Class awards in the showcase of New Zealand Extra Virgin Olive Oil this year. No producer has achieved back to back ‘Best in Class’ awards before and for LOT EIGHT the win is in the same category both years.

The judging panel this year included two International judges from Italy as well as local internationally accredited judges. The judges commented on the difficult year experienced by the industry this season with late harvests and challenging flavour balances. This was reflected in a low number of gold medals generally.

The LOT EIGHT Artemesia, like the 2007 Best in Class LOT EIGHT Red Label demonstrates oil maker Nalini Baruch’s intuition and ability to blend a predominantly Koroneiki oil with another variety to balance the final product’s flavours producing a soft, fruity oil with a subtle hint of peppery finish, able to compliment a variety of warm dishes.

This award confirms Nalini Baruch as one of New Zealand’s top oil makers, worthy of international recognition and able to deliver consistent taste and quality despite seasonal variances and significant harvesting challenges. The last olives for the Artemesia blend were harvested on 4 August, a month later than the previous year.

Recognition in New Zealand follows closely on another regional first. LOT EIGHT was chosen as one of only three producers from New Zealand to supply The Fresh Olive Oil Club in the UK. The Club membership is committed to sourcing quality products from around the world and celebrating new releases in this category. It includes top chefs and food critics in Britain and Europe as well as internationally recognised olive oil experts and consultants.

Representatives of The Club tasted the 2007 Best in Class oils in Spain last year at a promotion of the world’s finest Extra Virgin Olive oils sponsored by Olives NZ. Unable to buy that oil as stocks were already limited, the Fresh Olive Oil Club requested samples of this year’s LOT EIGHT oils. Just prior to the New Zealand judging LOT EIGHT dispatched the first shipment to fulfill the club’s order.

As a boutique brand, LOT EIGHT has produced gold medal oils for over 5 years now from fruit grown on its own and associated groves near Martinborough. The fruit used to produce this year’s Best in Class came from their own grove and that of their neighbour. Such is the quality of the oils produced that the 2007 Red Label went on to win a Sliver Medal at the LA County Fair 9 months after it was produced.