Trust only the experts: 14 real Bertolli reviews from the global olive oil competitions
Did you read about the Bertolli fake olive oil report?
If so, you might have been left thinking that olive oil adulteration is prevalent in the food-oil industry. But, in a separate guide, we explained how the lab testing on which that report was based was deeply flawed. The Bertolli fake olive oil story was plain nonsense. Here, we going to back that up with more facts and some great Bertolli olive oil reviews.
We believe we’ve already established beyond doubt that Bertolli produces only real extra virgin olive oil and, in this guide, we want to go even further by sharing with you 14 more real reviews.
These come not from the home cooks, food writers and bloggers who love our products, as we saw in the previous guide, but are the opinions of confirmed experts around the globe, based on the most rigid examination, and in competitive settings. Just ask them about the best olive oil.
There are solid reasons why Bertolli has long been the leading name in extra virgin olive oil, and why you can rest easy knowing that, when you purchase Bertolli to use at home, you’re getting the genuine article, as well as the perfect ingredient for your next meal.
To recap, the fake olive oil brands list story we’re talking about came out of a University of California, Davis study and led to spurious claims about fake olive oil companies around the world. A slew of clickbait websites fed off supposed revelations about food-oil industry dirty tricks to pull in readers, using headlines such as “14 Fake Olive Oil Companies Are Revealed Now”.
In fact, the original report failed to establish any fraud in either production or marketing. You might still need help deciding what the best olive oil is, so please let Bertolli be of assistance.
What Did the Fake Olive Oil Study Find?
The 2010 fake olive oil study concluded that 69% of imported olive oils failed to meet IOC/USDA standards for classification as extra virgin olive oil.
In our previous guide, we discussed why no olive oil enthusiast need take that conclusion seriously, let alone worry they’re being cheated.
|ICC/USDA ANALYSIS||DETERMINATIONS||INDICATORS*||ANALYSIS||EXTRA VIRGIN STANDARDS|
|Free Fatty Acids (FFA)||Free fatty acids are formed by the hydrolysis of the triacylglycerols in oils during extraction, processing, and storage.||An elevated level of free fatty acid indicates hydrolyzed, oxidized and/or poor-quality oil.||Analytical titration (AOCS Ca 5a-40).||Units: % as oleic acid. Limit: ≤ 0.8.|
|Peroxide Value (PV)||Peroxides are primary oxidation products that are formed when oils are exposed to oxygen, producing undesirable flavors and odors.||An elevated level of peroxides indicates oxidized and/or poor-quality oil.||Analytical titration (AOCS Cd 8b-90).||Units: mEq O2/kg oil.
Limit: ≤ 20.
|UV Absorption (for conjugated double bonds)||Conjugated double bonds are formed from natural nonconjugated unsaturation in oils upon oxidation.||An elevated level of UV absorbance indicates oxidized and/or poor quality oil.||UV spectrophotometry (AOCS Ch 5-91).||Units: K1%1cm.
Limits for K232, K268 and ∆K: ≤ 2.50, ≤ 0.22, and ≤ 0.01.
|Stigmastadiene||Stigmastadienes are produced by thermal dehydration of beta-sitosterol, a natural sterol found in virgin olive oils.||An elevated level of stigmastadienes indicates adulteration with refined oil.||Gas chromatography (GC) (IOC COI/T.20/Doc No.11-2001)||Units: mg/kg oil. IOC limit: ≤ 0.10 USDA limit: ≤ 0.15.|
|Fatty Acid Profile (FAP)||Fatty acids constitute the principal component of fats (saturated or unsaturated). Fatty acid profiles (FAP) are distinguishable markers between olive oils and some seed/nut oils (FAPs) vary slightly depending on the varieties and growing region of olives).||Analysis of the fatty acid profile provides information on the authenticity of the olive oil; an indicator for adulteration with refined oils.||Gas chromatography (GC) (IOC COI/T.20/Doc No.24-2001).||Units: % of total fatty acids. Limits: See Appendix.|
|Sterols Profile||Sterols are minor constituents of oils and are distinguishable markers between olive oils and some seed/nut oils.||Analysis of sterols provides information on the purity of the olive oil; an indicator for adulteration with refined seed/nut oils, although some sterol values may exceed IOC limits due to climate and olive varietal.||Gas chromatography (GC) (IOC COI/T.20/Doc No.10-2001).||Units: % of total sterols (mg/kg). Limits: See Appendix.|
|Sensory (Organoleptic)||Sensory refers to taste, odor and mouthfeel.||Sensory assessment can help identify oils that are of poor quality, oxidized, and/or adulterated with other oils.||IOC-recognized panel of 8 – 12 people evaluates oils for sensory characteristics (IOC COI/T.20/Doc No. 15/Rev. 2-2007, IOC COI/T.15/NC No 3/Rev. 4, 11-2009).||Panel must find median of defects = 0 and median of the fruity attribute > 0.|
|* Hydrolyzed – means oils in which triacylglycerols have been broken down via addition of water.
Oxidized – means oils that have become stale and rancid through oxidation, a chemical reaction that is promoted by heat, light, and/or age.
Refined – means cheaper, lower-grade oils that are solvent extracted, thermally deodorized and bleached.
Poor quality – means oils that were made from poor-quality olives, improperly processed, and/or improperly stored after processing.
What Happened Next with the Fake Olive Oil Study?
First, there was a 2011 sequel to the study that was never mentioned by the bloggers who’d been spreading the “14 fake olive oil companies” story as clickbait to generate shares and retweets on the social media. Some of the bloggers were also counting on the traffic of curious visitors to boost their Google AdWords income.
Of course, none of them wanted to report the second study, because it was far less conclusive than the first one, and thus far less interesting.
Why Should You Care about the Fake Olive Oil Report at All?
Apart from needing to know which brand is the best olive oil, you might be wondering why the fake olive oil report even warrants your attention. After all, isn’t it just a problem for companies like Bertolli?
In fact, it’s a problem for everyone, because bloggers and clickbait sites make people question the authenticity of the system used to test olive oil. It undermines consumers’ trust in the whole industry and leaves them questioning the type of olive oil they’ve been using in good faith.
Everyone who cares about the best olive oil and makes good use of it should want to go out of their way to discover the truth about the products and about the industry.
So, before we get to the 14 real olive oil reviews about Bertolli by the experts in the industry, we’re going to show you why, when you buy Bertolli, you’re most assuredly buying quality olive oil.
Every product that Bertolli creates, whether it’s extra virgin olive oil, extra light tasting olive oil, or mild olive oil, is tested for quality against the company’s own tough standards and against internationally accepted standards.
Interest is keenest in pure extra virgin olive oil because so many people rely on it as a staple of their diet. Real olive oil is a fundamental component of the Mediterranean diet, recognized as one of the healthiest in the world.
There are many health benefits to genuine olive oil, as detailed by the trusted health-information firm Healthline, such as reducing heart disease and providing the body with antioxidants and healthy fatty acids.
Lesser types of olive oil do not offer these benefits.
Let’s take a look at each type of olive oil in turn and you’ll be able to see why Bertolli olive oil is the real deal. And here you’ll be able to decide which type is the best olive oil for the use you have in mind.
Why Bertolli Extra Virgin Olive Oil is Genuine
Clickbait sites manipulated the report that led to the Bertolli fake olive oil story, our oil is of the finest quality and an olive oil brand to trust.
To prove this, we’ve gone directly to the source, the International Olive Council:
Designations and definitions of olive oils.
Virgin olive oils are the oils obtained from the fruit of the olive tree (Olea europaea L) solely by mechanical or other physical means under conditions, particularly thermal conditions, that do not lead to alterations in the oil, and which have not undergone any treatment other than washing, decantation, centrifugation and filtration.
For an oil to be classified as extra virgin olive oil, it must have:
– No more than 0.8 of a gram of oleic acid per 100 grams.
– No defects.
– A certain taste, such as the presence of yellow/green olives.
The specifications can get quite technical, but these are the basics you need to know. Keep in mind, though, that oleic acid, despite being so important in classification, has no bearing on taste.
At Bertolli, however, we go one step beyond these standards because we raise the bar on our own. We have stricter parameters than set by the International Olive Council.
Every year we:
– Analyze over 5.000 samples for taste and physical-chemical analysis
– Select between 1250 and 1500 batches
– Perform analyses on all incoming raw materials
– Conduct an additional round of full analyses on all our blends prior to bottling
– Control external features of each bottle produced
– Evaluate our analysis system with external certificated labs
– Receive on average around 1 inspection per month from institutions and certification bodies
These are the lofty standards that make Deoleo products the olive oil brands you can trust. Our extra virgin products are our pride and joy, so we take the utmost care in testing them.
To make sure Bertolli extra virgin olive oil is always genuine, we check all of the olives oils batch by batch so there’s no risk of contamination.
Here’s a snapshot from our website:
This is a process we go through for every single type of olive oil we produce. However, we take even more care with our extra virgin because it’s so special.
Our extra light tasting olive oil and mild olive oils go through a similar testing process. And we’re fully transparent about what goes into our other types of olive oil as well.
That’s how you get the health benefits of authentic olive oil without the taste, which some people just happen to dislike.
The Real Truth to How Real Olive Oil Experts Have Reacted to Bertolli Olive Oil
Forget the bloggers writing about olive oil brands that are fake, based on a questionable study and driven by the desire to make money by posting outrageous stories.
What do the real authorities on quality olive oil think about our oil?
As of this writing, so far in 2018 alone, Bertolli has received more than 60 medals and special mentions for high quality in olive oil industry competitions all over the world. We succeeded at the Japan Olive Oil Awards and even in the Los Angeles Extra Virgin Competition, in the US state where the “list of fake olive oils” controversy originated.
What Should You Look for in Bertolli Olive Oil Reviews?
You might be trying to decide which brand is the best olive oil. Or maybe you need confirmation on what you’ve about Bertolli. Reviews of original olive oil by food writers, professional chefs, home cooks – and by news aggregators who are only in the game for the money – come in many variants. But there are several distinguishing characteristics that will tell you if they’re being honest and helpful or if they might be deliberately (or neglectfully) misleading you.
WHO is the Writer? – This is the most important clue to detecting a fake review. The writer should have some credibility. You should be able to look them up and they should have a reputation for telling the truth about the products they write about. Many of the writers talking about olive oil brands that are fake share no information about themselves.
If they’re not present in some form of identifiable, traceable way, what else have they got to hide?
WHAT is the Agenda? – Consider what the reviewer has to gain from writing a review about extra virgin olive oil. Mention of the oil winning an award would suggest the writer is willing to praise.
WHERE is the Review? – Websites are relative easy to set up and blog sites even easier – WordPress will have you up and running in an hour. It’s thus also easy for ill-intentioned bloggers to hit and run – to denigrate someone or something, rake in the income from visitor traffic, and then pack up and move on to their next site for more guerrilla warfare.
You’ll also notice that many of the olive oil adulteration reviews that have been circulating appear on identical or very similar domains. Sites like these tend to be colluding so they can feed off each other’s links and readership.
WHY Should You Care? – Think about the purpose of the review. This is different from the agenda aspect, because it’s about what the reader is expected to get out of it.
If the organizers of an awards competition publish a post about Bertolli, you know they’re doing so because they want people to know what type of olive oil to buy if they want a top-quality, authentic product in their kitchens.
The Top 14 Real Bertolli Olive Oil Reviews Revealed
Without further ado, let’s take a look at the top 14 Bertolli olive oil reviews by the experts.
Each of these was published in the year up to May 2018, so they’re current and relevant.
Chinese consumers have come to greatly admire quality olive oil imported from Europe. Here in Italy in particular, thanks to the unique growing conditions, we produce olives with a flavor that can’t be replicated anywhere else in the world.
Thus, it was with a degree of confidence that we entered a variety of Bertolli brands in the 13th edition of the China International Olive Oil Competition. And the judges were impressed.
Our Bertolli Selection swept the medium-flavor category, claiming a gold medal, and on top of that, the Bertolli Harvest range from 2016-2017 received a special mention.
This wasn’t the first time we earned awards at the China International Olive Oil Competition. In 2017, Bertolli Selection also won a gold medal in the same category.
We succeed because the judges there rely on simple sensory testing and are able to taste the delightful fruity flavor of the olives. And this is despite the fact that we’re being more careful than ever about our supply chain. Our oils have to travel a long way to reach China.
The switch to dark bottles helped greatly in this regard, shielding our extra virgin olive oil from sunlight. Over such long distances, we have to monitor the supply chain every step of the way so the oil doesn’t arrive at its destination degraded in any way.
Bertolli doesn’t just have a presence in traditional olive-growing regions like Spain, California and its homeland, Italy. Our oils have a lot of fans in places like Germany, too.
At the Der Feinschmecker Olio Awards, Bertolli Exclusive Selection gained yet more recognition as a quality olive oil. The original review shown below is in German, of course, but let’s translate just a short snippet: «The oil we tested blind is good. Notes of ripe tomatoes, chamomile flowers, freshly cut grass, leaf spinach, kiwi and apple. In combination with subtle bitter and quite moderate sharpness – good!»
Der Feinschmecker gave Bertolli an excellent review for this type of olive oil. It’s a strong extra virgin olive oil contender and it comes directly from Tuscany.
Auch hier sei noch einmal erwähnt, dass dieser Ölmulti, unserer Auffassung nach eben nicht zur „Achse des Guten“ in Sachen Olivenöl zählt. Aus langjähriger Erfahrung mit den diversen Öl-Produkten dieses Herstellers haben wir bisher das Gegenteil angenommen. Das Öl, dass wir blind getestet haben ist gut. Noten von reifen Tomaten, von Kamillenblüten, frisch geschnittenes Gras, Blattspinat, Kiwi und Apfel. Das in Kombination mit dezentem Bitter und recht moderater Schärfe – gut! Der Fairness halber sei erwähnt, dass wir das Öl im Handel noch nicht gesehen haben und dass wir auch nicht wissen, woher genau es stammt. Dass eine Firma dieser Größe aber Zugriff auch auf gute (und bessere) Qualitäten haben sollte, versteht sich von selbst. Die Frage ist nur: Welche genau sind das?
Herkunftsregion: ITALIEN, Toskana
Bewertung: Platz 155
This was harvested during the 2016-2017 season and it’s retained the flavors of where it was produced.
One of the most powerful reviews to date of Bertolli extra virgin olive oil came from the International Taste & Quality Institute (ITQI).
The ITQI presents awards to different olive oil producers every year. In the latest edition, Bertolli Exclusive Selection received yet another gold medal for its superior attributes. Other brands produced by Deoleo that received awards included Carapelli and Carbonell.
What’s interesting about this review is the scientific way the oils are assessed for quality. Here’s a snapshot of the judging criteria:
All branded and processed products sold in grocery stores are eligible to participate in the Superior Taste Award annually.
Product Preparation before Judging
When receiving samples from the producers, iTQi checks to make sure that the products are in suitable condition for testing. Each sample will be given a unique identification number and be properly labelled. Products are then stored in the conditions specified by the producers, awaiting to be evaluated.
iTQi reserves the right to test the physical and chemical components of the samples with accredited laboratories to ensure that the products tested are the same quality when it reaches the consumers.
Products are tested on a strictly blind basis, without packaging and without any identification.
The unique identification number that is assigned to each product is to ensure a reliable tracking system. Products are strictly prepared, heated or cooked according to producer’s instructions and are presented as if they were served at home in a specific sequential order.
Each judge willl the taste the product and assign a numeric score to each criterion from the sensory analysis on an evaluation sheet provided. The scores will be tallied to reflect the overall feeling of hedonic pleasure (the most important weight in the final mark) and other criteria like vision, smell, texture, flavour and mouth-feel.
Products are tested by a large panel of judges from different nationalities.
Not a competition
Products are evaluated on their individual merits and do not compete against each other.
The scores are compiled by computer software that will determine the final global mark.
Key to this evaluation is the blind test and the fact the institute also issues a confidential report that provides full testing results for professional chefs around the world.
What we like is that olive oils are judged in the same way they’d be judged on your dining table. They’re used in cooking according to the same instructions you find on the bottle.
It’s not just about Bertolli olive oil – it’s about how well it plays within the context of a whole meal.
And, once again, Bertolli earned a gold medal.
One of the biggest endorsements for Bertolli extra virgin olive oil came in the London International Olive Oil Competition. This is Europe’s largest such competition and its organizing body is one of the main authorities on pure olive oil, not only in Europe but in the whole world.
These are real experts on the subject, and their assessments loom large, because professional chefs rely on them when choosing olive oils for the finest restaurants on the planet.
In May 2018, with olive oils from around the globe being judged, Bertolli received yet more glowing reviews.
The big winner was Bertolli Black Label, which received a gold award for its taste, composition and overall quality. It beat out a huge range of other oils and was our most successful Bertolli brand in this particular competition.
Deoleo also succeeded with its other brands. One special mention was Hojiblanca, which is one of Deoleo’s Spanish brands. Two from that product range were able to claim the highest honor of all, which was the Platinum award.
Deoleo and its brands of olive oil take up a whole row in the prizes roster, solid testament that Deoleo is responsible for a significant variety of brands of award-winning olive oils.
This is why it’s inconceivable that a single report on fake olive oil based on the UC Davis study could somehow cast doubt, when the experts clearly disagree.
Keep in mind that we’ve been winning awards and receiving rave reviews at Europe’s biggest olive oil competition for years!
5. New York International Olive Oil Competition – Official Index of the World’s Best Olive Oils for 2018
The New York International Olive Oil Competition has become one of the most respected indicators of the world’s best olive oils.
Every olive oil maker wants to be recognized at this awards ceremony. And this year Bertolli Black Label was honored with a Silver award.
We were reviewed with the following comment: “Being strong sometimes means being able to be fearless. Fearless to indulge the deeply green with strong, grassy flavor.”
This review is in reference to the strong, robust taste we deliver with Bertolli Black Label extra virgin olive oil. It’s the balance of that sheer strength against the subtler characteristics that make it a delicious extra virgin blend from Italy.
Deoleo might have established a trend at the Terraolivo olive oil competition held each year in Israel – our extra virgin blends win every year, and we’re confident the trend will continue. The 2018 event takes place in June.
In 2017, Deoleo saw two Bertolli brands and an entry from Carapelli win Prestige Gold Awards in this competition.
Why is Terraolivo so important for any real extra virgin olive oil brand that’s standing on (or staking out) a global reputation?
Quite simply, this is a competition held in a region, the Eastern Mediterranean, that was producing olive oil 5,000 years before the birth of Jesus. Nowhere else is olive oil as important as it is here.
To give an idea of the scale and significance of the competition:
Terraolivo MIOOC is the most important international olive oil competition in the area of the eastern Mediterranean and Asia because of the number of samples judged, which is growing annually along with the production areas. The last edition had more than 683 samples from more than 60 production areas.
The competition is obviously stiff. But Bertolli gained yet more strong reviews, which provide us with yet more evidence that the experts are on our side.
Forget the fake websites and malicious clickbait gossip – these are the people to whom the olive oil enthusiasts are listening.
The Los Angeles Extra Virgin Olive Oil Awards 2018 were of particular interest to us because this is in the US state where the original fake olive oil study by UC Davis, partially funded by local corporations, was conducted. Nevertheless, in 2018 we continued winning in California. The results speak for themselves:
Two of our premium extra virgin olive oils claimed awards. Our medium-flavor extra virgin, Bertolli Black, and our delicate-flavor extra virgin, Bertolli Green, both scooped up awards in 2018.
These judges are extremely discerning and, despite the negative press surrounding Bertolli and other European olive oil producers, they still felt compelled to include us in the competitive extra virgin olive oil category and to recognize our oils for their quality.
We have continuously done extremely well in Los Angeles in the years since the unfairly demeaning report came out in 2010.
This is further proof of what real olive oil reviewers truly think about our extra virgin blends.
The Athena International Olive Oil Competition is just in its third year, but that doesn’t make it any less important to the industry.
Greece is revered as the home of olive oil. In ancient times Homer, no less, referred to quality olive oil as “liquid gold”. And what did the ancestral home of olive oil think of Bertolli in 2018?
Have a look at this page and you can see how well Bertolli did. Again, the results speak for themselves:
Why is this such an important awards competition?
The panel of judges for the Athena International Olive Oil Competition is truly world-class. The main panel include experts from Europe, Australia, North America and Africa. If we can make an impression on so many diverse palates, it only goes to show how authentic and how sensational Bertolli olive oils are.
More success came for Bertolli this year in France, a country whose people are proudly picky about their olive oil. And we are proud to announce that Black Label managed to pick up an Argent award this year. Our strong and robust Black Label olive oil won for its flavor and high quality.
The absolute importance of Les Olivalies should be clear from this statement:
Based on the observation that olive growing and its products are complementary to winegrowing and winemaking, the Union des Œnologues de France (French Union of Œnologists), in close cooperation with the Centre Technique de l’Olivier (Technical Centre for Olive Growing – AFIDOL), have organized for several years an international olive competition, Les Olivalies, aiming at rewarding the best olive oils in the world in each category (green fruity, ripe fruity, black fruity).
Gold Olivalies medals and Silver Olivalies medals permit consumers to distinguish the best high-quality products.
In short, these are olive oil reviews brought together by two esteemed organizations. Each olive oil is approached in a scientific manner and adjudicated by certified experts, including scientists and professional tasters.
These judgments are not just the opinions of a few people who love olive oil. These are experts with years of experience in determining the type of olive oil that meets the highest standards.
Asia is an emerging market for producers of extra virgin olive oil all over the world and the market competition is fierce. Bertolli has been paying particular attention to Asia since the turn of the century.
The Japan Olive Oil Prize is the country’s second-most prestigious competition. Bertolli succeeded again in 2018, claiming a prize for our Bertolli Premium Black edition, our extra virgin olive oil, in the “Blend” category.
As you can see, Bertolli is not just succeeding in the Western world. Experts in the Asian market have also praised the strong blend and vintage of our fruity extra virgin.
Now we go to Zurich, where the Swiss have cast their judgment on Bertolli olive oil. Our big winner here was, again, Bertolli black label. It received another bronze medal in the overall best olive oil category. This is a major boon for us because it’s yet another major European competition that we have succeeded in.
It just demonstrates how the professional European olive oil tasters judge our blend, our brand, and our award-winning taste.
We have historically done well in this contest and we are proud to say that we have continued to do so.
In Deoleo’s home of Spain, the Olive Oil School of Spain is one of the authorities on what makes an extra virgin olive oil special. It’s why we prioritize this competition every single year because this is where people learn about the characteristics of a truly fantastic olive oil.
Our Bertolli Black Label edition won a gold medal for being one of the best olive oils around. Although it’s only in its second year and it primarily focuses on olive oils produced in Spain, it’s unveiled a new category that recognizes the best international olive oils.
Bertolli Black Label was one of the top scorers with the judges and received a prestigious gold to recognize its taste and aroma.
The 16th edition of the World Edible Oils International Contest took place in Paris. As anyone who knows French cuisine understands, they’re incredibly discerning when it comes to what they expect from their food. And the same goes for their olive oil.
The way it works is that a team of judges, consisting primarily of gourmets, test each olive oil and judges them based on their main characteristics. The testing takes place over two stages, when the medals are awarded.
Bertolli Black Label received a Gourmet medal, which tells consumers that they’re consuming genuine extra virgin oil. But our classic Bertolli Extra Virgin Olive Oil was the big winner. It not only received a standard Gourmet medal, but it was promoted to a higher class with its Gourmet Bronze medal.
This relatively new competition has quickly attracted all the major olive oil manufacturers from around the world. Located in Portugal, this annual competition ranks olive oils in categories based on their flavour and taste.
In 2018, Bertolli Black Label was flying the flag for Bertolli and it didn’t disappoint in the slightest. It received an honourable mention in the medium fruity category.
The judges at Ovibeja quickly recognised the sumptuous taste of our strong extra virgin blend. It’s yet another feather in the cap for Bertolli’s European dominance. It just goes to show why millions of consumers from across the world are regular buyers of our olive oil.
So those are 14 real Bertolli olive oil reviews you’ll find online – by the professionals.
Forget the clickbait and the misinterpreted studies. These international experts can be trusted always when it comes to which olive oil brands are real, and surely they know better than anyone else.
Bertolli has been judged accordingly. Both the classic blend of olive oil and Bertolli Black Label have won time and time again at every major international competition in the last year.
Last Word – What We Can Conclude about Bertolli Real Olive Oil
We don’t need to tell you how good this type of olive oil is – because others are doing it for us.
And they’re the real experts who’ve been in the olive oil business for many, many years. They have nothing to gain by promoting the Bertolli brand above any others.
So, now that the real Bertolli reviewers of the world have given their opinions, it’s your turn.
What is your favorite type of Bertolli olive oil?
Tell us in the comments section below!