OLIVE oil from Spain swept the board at the recent Mario Solinas 2016 Awards, one of the most prestigious on the planet and covering the whole of the northern hemisphere.
Run by the International Olive Oil Council, a total of 130 oils applied for awards, of which 79 were from Spain.
Points are given for producers' craftsmanship, flavour, quality and packaging, and are classified according to whether they are 'intense', 'light', 'medium' or 'mature, with a multi-cultural judges' panel giving marks to those in each category.
None of Spain's oils got into the top three for the 'light' category, but first, second and third prizes in all the other categories went to Spanish entries.
Of Spain's 79, a total of nine won top three prizes, all extra-virgin oils.
Those which won or were placed are Muela-Olives from Priego, Córdoba province, winning both the 'intense' and 'medium'; Casas de Hualdo, from Carpío de Tajo (Toledo province), second in 'intense'; Pedro A. Melgarejo Cordero, from Pegalajar (Jaén province), coming third in the 'intense' category; SCA Olivarera la Purísima, also in Priego, which came second in the medium category; Manuel Montes Marín, from Priego, third in the medium category; Agrícola La Maja, S.L. from Mendavia in Navarra, which won the 'mature' category; SCA Nuestra Señora de la Fuensanta de Oleoestepa, from Corcoya, Sevilla province, which came second in the 'mature' category; and Pago de Peñarrubia, S.L., from Albacete, which came third in the 'mature' category.
Changes to EU laws last year meant olive oil served in restaurants must now be in its own, original container so diners can see exactly which one they are pouring on their food, in an effort to boost marketing and sales for producers from all over Europe.