For the second year in a row Morgenster extra virgin olive oil, grown and produced at the Estate in Somerset West, has been awarded the top score of 98 points out of a possible 100 in the authoritative international Flos Olei competition which assesses the world’s best olive oils. Flos Olei also produces an annual Guide to the world’s best olive oils.
Owner Giulio Bertrand, who collected the award in Rome on 29 November, said: “It is exciting news for Morgenster and for South Africa, which is a relatively new olive oil producing country. Flos Olei 2015 judged thousands of entries from around the world, assessing oils from long established producer countries like Italy, Spain, Greece and Croatia as well as newer producers from the southern hemisphere. Only 12 oils achieved 98%. Apart from Morgenster, the other top oils come from Italy (seven), Spain (three) and Chile (one)”.
Bertrand believes that the combination of Italian trees and expertise, an exceptional South African terroir and a rigid approach to quality at every stage of production has enabled Morgenster to achieve its consistent level of excellence. Morgenster extra virgin olive oil has been rated as one of the best in the world for the past 10 years *.
“What our consistent international awards mean for South Africans who are new to enjoying olive oil on salads, bruschetta, pasta and other dishes, is that they can use Morgenster as a reliable international standard against which to educate their palates about a great olive oil”, he says.
The culture of enjoying excellent olive oils is relatively new to South Africa. As a result consumers may not have the experience or confidence to assess quality, freshness and taste. It is something that Morgenster has been working hard to change over the years. The Estate conducts many tutored olive oil tastings both at the farm and at food events.
Morgenster’s wines and olive products are exported around the world. On their labels they feature the Morning Star within a scallop shell as depicted on the front gable of the Estate’s manor house.
Morgenster’s impact on the South African olive oil industry
When Giulio Bertrand moved from Italy to South Africa in 1992 and bought Morgenster, he found that good quality extra virgin olive oil was not being produced locally. When he learnt that the farm’s terroir could produce olive oil and wine in line with the best in the world, he established a long-term partnership with Prof. Giuseppe Fontanazza of the Italian Institute of Olive Research and imported 2000 olive trees covering 14 cultivars from the north to the south and the islands of Italy and established them in his nursery. The farm now has over 50 hectares of olive groves covering 17 different Italian varieties.
In pursuing its own quality and excellence objectives Morgenster has effectively rebirthed South Africa’s olive oil industry. From its nursery the Estate has supplied tens of thousands of new olive tree cultivars to farms in South Africa, Namibia and Zimbabwe. Around 75% of the trees in the local industry come from Morgenster. It continues to provide the most up to date oil extraction plant technology, harvesting and pruning equipment and production expertise to local farms.
To increase local industry knowledge of international standards Bertrand invites Dr Luciano Scarselli, the panel leader of the official panel of Tuscany Region, to come to South Africa every few years to run olive oil tasting and judging courses at Morgenster. As a result of all these initiatives, South African olive oils now win important international awards and the country is recognised as being among the world’s top olive oil producing nations.
In August 2012 the SA Olive Association honoured Bertrand with a Life Time Achiever trophy for these contributions to the local olive oil industry.