We’re very glad to announce that our Tuscan Blend, which is made with Leccino and Frantoio olives, typical cultivars from Tuscany now growing in California, received a ‘Menzione d’onore’ (honorary mention) at the Premio Il Magnifico competition in Tavernelle Val di Piesa, Tuscany, Italy.
‘Il Magnifico’ refers to Lorenzo di Medici, known as ‘The Magnificent.’ Lorenzo was one of the outstanding leaders of the Italian Renaissance (re-birth), the movement of the 14th through 17th centuries, which came to be enormously influential in the culture and politics of the western hemisphere. The movement tapped into classical sources (mostly Greek and Roman philosophy and art) to produce an explosion of creativity in the world of art and ideas.
With writers Dante and Petrarch, and painters Giotto and Cimabue as precursors, the period produced ‘Renaissance Men’ — men who worked and cultivated their various talents and disciplines. Men like Leonardo da Vinci, Galileo Galilei and Michelangelo were among the many great writers, inventors, painters, sculptors and scientists of this era.
The Renaissance was also the birth of Humanism, a philosophy associated with the Greek philosopher Protagoras, whose motto was ‘Man the Measure.’ The idea behind this motto is that man is the measure of all things. It’s a system that strives to honor and realize the human potential.
Lorenzo ruled Florence for almost 50 years. He was a great diplomat and patron of scholars, artists and poets. He himself was a poet who wrote beautiful lines about the olive trees of the Tuscan landscape. Olive trees existed in Tuscany since ancient times (in Etruscan and Roman civilizations), though it was under Lorenzo’s guidance and efforts that they became one of the main economic resources of the region.
Following that spirit, Giorgio Mori from Oliomio/TEM, one of the most interesting companies making olive oil equipment today, and chef Matia Barciulli, have started the Premio Il Magnifico competition for olive oils of excellence.
Giorgio and Matia noted that, in Tuscany, there was a vast culture and cuisine developed around wine though nothing at that level for another emblematic product of the area: extra virgin olive oil. They decided to design a competition, which would bring awareness to olive oil’s value.
Sponsored by the Region of Tuscany, the Province of Florence and the Chamber of Commerce of Florence, an institution that has been in the front line of olive oil tasting and research, they created four distinctive awards.
The first award, ‘Il Magnifico,’ was for the olive oil that received the highest score from the tasting panel.
The second award, ‘Marco Mugelli,’ was for the olive oil with the highest polyphenol count. Marco was the leading expert who changed the olive oil industry by bringing innovative extraction methods and concepts in olive oil making, and focused on maximizing the extraction of the precious natural anti-oxidants found in olive oil.
A third award, ‘Massimo Pasquini,’ was for the olive oil that paired best with traditional Tuscan dishes.
Finally, there was an international award. The judges, a tasting panel of the highest level, selected 12 finalists — 8 from Italy and 4 from abroad. Among these finalists, they chose 4 winners. Pacific Sun Tuscan Blend was among the 12 finalists and was voted second best of the non-Italian olive oils.
We’re thrilled to receive such appreciation from these people who hold the strictest standards when it comes to fine olive oils.
Most importantly, we have had the good fortune to meet and learn from some of these friends who were instrumental in developing this contest. These are the late Marco Mugelli and his son Mateo (who milled the winning olive oil in the international category), and Giorgio and Marzia Migliorini (one of the judges). These friends all carry a bit of that great Renaissance heritage in the way they approach olive oil making so thoughtfully, always looking forward to learning and discovering new things. Without them, we wouldn’t be making the same olive oil.
On behalf of the Pacific Sun Olive Oil team (Brendon, Callie),
To learn more about the Premio Il Magnifico competition click here.