It was a proud moment when Marlene Loubser, General Manager of Lamara Franschhoek, together with oil master Gert van Dyk from Tokara Stellenbosch and Fotinin Balassis from Johannesburg, represented South Africa as one of two teams in the first Extra Virgin Olive Oil Team Championships held in Spain in October 2019.
The championship was held in Prego de Cordoba in association with the association for quality control of the oils of the region Cordoba. Twenty-one teams from Australia, France, Italy, Spain, Netherlands, Greece and South Africa participated and competed for the title of the champion team. Marlene Loubser was the team captain of her team and although they did not end up in the first three positions, they did finish in eighth position.
Marlene did very well in her individual tasting skill score and is one out of seven persons to achieve golden status for her excellent tasting and judging skills out of an International Savantes Register program. International Olive Oil Savantes is one of the few organisations that reward individuals for demonstrating their expertise in tasting olive oils. The award of Extra Virgin Olive Oil Savante and Membership of the Savantes Register is bestowed on programme participants who achieve the required score in the ‘Testing Your Skill as a Taster’ session on the third day of the current programme or during Savantes co-organised National Team Tasting Championships.
The team from Navarre won the first World Extra Virgin Olive Oil Team Tasting Championship. The team comprised Roberto Gracia Sagasti, Carlos Gracia Sagasti and Mario Gomara Alfaro – all producers and taste panelists. Second was the Greek LET team of Lykourgos Polychronopoulos, Efstathia Zontanou and Takis Dimitrakopoulos. The Greek JNP team were third and tied for fourth were Team de Nimes from France and Los Narizones from Spain.
Well done to South Africa for their entry into the World of the Olive Oil masters.