Extra Virgin Olive Oil Savantes Update

Tasting the best extra virgin olive oils from around the world!

Monday 13th January 2020 



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Savantes Madrid, Spain

Tasting Team World Cup Expression of Interest

Register of Savantes and Associate Savantes


20 Years in 2020!

In 2020 Savantes is celebrating 20 years of tasting the best extra virgin olive oils from around the world. Since launching in 2001, the programme has expanded from Australia to South Africa, the USA, United Kingdom, Spain, Italy, New Zealand and the Netherlands – along with the Team Tasting Championships being held in South Africa, France, Greece and Spain!

2020 Evolution – Last Opportunity to Attend a Savantes Tasting Programme in Europe

Along with the celebrations, the Savantes programme continues to evolve and in 2020 we will focus on our objective ‘To increase the consumption of olive oil’, which will see a number of changes in the programme! Whilst the Tasting Team Championships continue to expand, the Extra Virgin Olive Oil Savantes tasting programme running in March 2020 in Madrid is the last planned Tasting Programme in Europe or the USA, and therefore the last opportunity in the foreseeable future to experience the two day tasting course.

For more information about the programme, visit the Savantes Madrid Website.

2020 Team Tasting Championships

We are working with our partners to plan the 2020 Team Tasting Championships, which are planned in a number of countries throughout 2020, culminating in the World Championship. If you are interested in entering the championships, or would like to partner with Savantes to run a championship please email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. This year we plan to run Team Tasting Championships in Europe (including the UK!), North America and Southern Africa – and would also like to launch championships in Australasia and South America.

You can also read about the 2019 Team Tasting World Cup here: 2019 Team Tasting Championship

Corporate Two-day Programmes

Savantes has presented two-day tasting programmes to large Europe-based Corporations in USA and Australia. We will continue to provide these on a negotiated basis. The programme aims to increase sales through product knowledge for purchasing, marketing and sales teams. Continuing training programmes can be developed using in-house personnel trained by Savantes. Savantes skills testing and certification is part of these programmes. For enquiries contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.  

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 © 2020 Salsi Pty Ltd, Trading as Extra Virgin Olive Oil Savantes 


Extra Virgin Olive Oil Savantes Update

Tasting the best extra virgin olive oils from around the world!

Thursday, 5th December 2019 

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Quick Links

Savantes Madrid, Spain

Tasting Team World Cup Expression of Interest

Register of Savantes and Associate Savantes


The Aim of Savantes

Savantes was started in 2001, the year the Apple iPod was launched, which makes 2020 the 20th year of our activities. We may not be as ubiquitous as the iPods, however Savantes is widely known in the worldwide olive oil industry.

Our aim during the first two decades has included a multitude of objectives and it is time to simplify it to encompass all the events we are involved in. We have revised our ethos for the next decade.

Our Aim is now simply:

‘To increase the consumption of olive oil.’

Our main emphasis will continue to be to improve product knowledge which is paramount when competing with vegetable oils and other brands. It has become commonplace in our industry to compete by denigrating other brands and olive oils from other regions, this plays into the hands of the vegetable oils.

With the supply of olive oil exceeding demand, declining consumption in traditional consuming countries and the use of tariffs as punitive measures, product knowledge is the most valuable commercial investment to increase sales.

Olive Oil from Start to Finish

As an industry we depend on successful sales of all classifications of olive oil covering a range of price points. To adopt an approach which respects this we will promote the concept of ‘Starting olive oils and Finishing olive oils’. This will embrace the consumers who use lower-priced olive oils and encourage them to aspire to using the more flavoursome higher-priced oils to finish their dish.

In our flavour assessment programmes we will still concentrate on the higher end of the market with extra virgin olive oils from all producing regions. We will provide data and information which covers all classifications of olive oil in the marketplace. We will continue with our corporate programmes for the large organisations which supply the supermarkets and groceries around the world.

Watch Your Language

We believe that our language and designs have become too technical and remote from food, and the oils have followed suit. To sell a product that meets the food demands of consumers we need to adopt simpler, more evocative, language and pictures throughout the industry: producers; administrators; researchers; panellists: traders; and retailers. We will then produce and sell a more appealing food ingredient for consumers.

We never fail, either we succeed or learn

That saying, modified from a quote from Nelson Mandela, sums up the year for Savantes events in 2019. We organised or co-organised 11 events in 5 countries. Over 275 people attended these events and approximately 200 undertook the Savantes Skills Review. We welcomed 2 new Savantes, giving a total of 7, and around 20% of those who did the test achieved Associate Status. We introduced and presented Silver, Gold and Platinum Associate Certificates. We passed the total of 100 Associate Savantes from 10 countries.

We celebrated Team Tasting Champions in Greece and Spain and applauded the first World Team Tasting Champions from Navarra in Spain, followed closely by the two teams from Greece.

Those were the Savantes successes for the year.

We learned from the low attendance at Savantes Varietals and the Savantes Conference – two events which we are unlikely to repeat. We also learned of the difficulties in developing Savantes en Cuisine designed to evaluate varietals in food. We will continue to pursue this idea.

Savantes Madrid 5-6 March 2020

Currently the only planned two-day Savantes programme for 2020 will be held in Madrid on 5 and 6 March. The sessions include guidance on flavour assessment, markets, compliance, uses, health benefits, blending and competitions. The Savantes Skills Review will be held in the morning of the second day. The full programme and registration are available at www.savantes.org

Regional Team Tasting Championships

The increasing number of Savantes events means that we will not be able to support or co-organise Team Tasting Championships in all those countries which may want to be involved in the future.

In recognition of this we are introducing 2 options:

1. To hold a National Team Tasting Championship without the involvement of Savantes. The winning team will still be invited to the World Championship contingent on the Championship meeting the guidelines of Savantes. Associate Savante and Savante Certification will not be provided for these championships and Savantes will not assist in the procurement of olive oils.

2. To hold a regional Team Tasting Championship coorganised with Savantes. Certification will be provided, Savantes will manage the registration and collect the fee in the process. Savantes will assist in the collection of olive oils and manage the tests.

The regions and respective countries are:

North America – USA, Canada, Mexico

South America – Peru, Brazil, Chile, Argentina, Uruguay

North-Central Europe – Sweden, Denmark, Norway, Finland, Netherlands, Germany, Belgium, France, Switzerland, Austria, Ireland, United Kingdom.

Adriatic and Aegean – Cyprus, Croatia, Albania, Greece, Turkey. Slovenia, Romania, Italy

Iberia and North Africa – Spain, Portugal, Gibraltar, Tunisia, Algeria, Egypt, Morocco, Libya

Australasia and Southern Africa – South Africa, Namibia, Australia, New Zealand

Middle East – Jordan, Iraq, Iran, Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, UAE, Israel

Asia – India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, China, Japan, Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand, Vietnam, Philippines

Any countries omitted will be added into the appropriate region.

We will also consider changing the allocation of countries to regions if appropriate.

Invitations to the World Championships from the Regional Championship will still allow the leading team from each country to participate.

We are happy to discuss with Savantes and Associate Savantes the arrangements to run Championships in either format in 2020 and subsequent years.

The Olive Oil Conference – North America

Over the last 5 years Savantes has been a co-organiser of the Olive Oil Conference in the USA, but following a change in the format and content in the conference we have decided to focus our activities in the USA on other events, including the annual North American Tasting Championship and the Savantes two-day tasting programmes.

Any Savantes or Associates who are interested in co-organising Savantes events in the USA should email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. with an outline of the suggested event and organisational arrangements.

Thank you and Enjoy your Festivities

Savantes depends on your participation – thank you for your involvement. We have a diverse group of people involved in Savantes with many different festivals and festivities. We wish you all the very best, enjoyment and prosperity for 2020.

 © 2020 Salsi Pty Ltd, Trading as Extra Virgin Olive Oil Savantes 

Simon Field, August 2017

One of the unexpected benefits of participating in a Savantes tasting is the occasional opportunity to experience something beyond evaluating olive oil. Such an opportunity arose when attendees at the Seville programme were invited to visit the Juan Ramón Guillén Foundation museum on the outskirts of the city. Our host was Juan González of Hacienda Guzmán, who participated in the Seville programme.

The Foundation was founded in 2011 with the purpose of bringing the rural sector closer to the public with special emphasis on the olive sector. The centrepiece is the Hacienda Guzmán from which the brand of quality extra virgin olive oils takes its name. Six centuries ago, Hernando, the son of Christopher Columbus, produced olive oil on the estate and exported it to America.

Hacienda Guzmán

The stately house is the home to the olive oil museum with a massive beam olive oil press and many of

The first Spanish National Extra Virgin Olive Oil Team Tasting Championship was a resounding success. Held in Priego de Cordoba in Southern Spain the championship attracted 13 teams of 3 from all over Spain. Staged by the PDO for the region Priego de Córdoba (ASCCAL) and International Extra Virgin Olive Oil Savantes the event used the Savantes Tasting Skills Test and additional exercises to assess the tasting ability of the teams.

Included in the tests were extra virgin olive oils contributed by producers from France, Italy, Greece, Spain and Portugal with the varietals including ocale, picual, arbequina, hojblanca, coratina, cobrancosa, galega, koroneiki, changlot real, manzanilla, cornicabra, l’aglandau, olivastra seggianese, tonda iblei and picuda. An important activity of Savantes is to encourage recognition and appreciation of extra virgin olive oils from all varietals and regions around the world.

The skills exhibited by the tasting teams were outstanding with Fermin Rodriguez Jimenez becoming the first to achieve Savante status since the introduction of the skills test fifteen years ago. Twenty participants achieved Associate Savante status which requires a score of 60% or more in the test, full Savantes status requires 80% or more.


Cooking and Health Attributes of Olive Oil Compared with Other Vegetable Oils

Often when asking consumers about the use of other vegetable oils in preference to olive oil they justify their choice by repeating advertising claims of well promoted oils such as rice bran oil. 

Analysis of comparative smoke points and health benefits shows that some of these claims are questionable, if not downright wrong.

The Savantes programme, while concentrating on the taste and flavour of olive oil, has important sessions discussing the health attributes. Many of the taste and flavour characteristics are good indicators of the level of the ‘health chemistry’ of extra virgin olive oils.

‘You are what you eat’ goes the saying. Perhaps this is better stated as ‘You are what you ingest’.

The human body is a complex organism which is kept alive by what we ingest. Some of this is voluntary through eating and drinking, some of it involuntary like the intake of air and the absorption of the sun’s rays and other compounds through the skin.

Pretty well everything we ingest has an impact on our health.

Those of us who are involved with olive oil need to know the basics of health benefits of olive oil and how to encourage consumers to gain the benefits by using olive oil. We need this information in a form we can pass on to consumers who in general have less scientific knowledge than we do.

Health attributes of olive oil

There are thousands of technical papers on the influence that olive oil has on the human body. Almost every day there are more as scientists unravel the genetic control of our physiological activities.

The chemistry of extra virgin olive oil is complex, however its components can be divided into the saponifiable fraction and the insaponifiable fraction. Basically this means that the saponifiable fraction turns into soap if treated with sodium hydroxide, and the rest (insaponifiable) doesn’t.

The saponifiable fraction comprises 97-99% of olive oil, and is made up of triglycerides and a small amount of other compounds such as free fatty acids (FFA). The latter we measure to give us an indication of the acidity of the oil.

The insaponifiable fraction, 1-3% of olive oil, is made up of many important compounds which determine the flavour, quality and stability of the oil. In this fraction many vegetal phenols have been identified. During refining 88% of the phenolic compounds are lost.

Both the saponifiable and insaponifiable fraction have dietary and health benefits.

An important element of the Savantes programme is about describing taste and flavour of extra virgin olive oils from all over the world. To do this we need to understand the biological basis and process of tasting.