2017 ABSA TOP 10 Olive Oils Delicate Category Winners & The Perfect Recipe

Words: Crush

The 2017 ABSA Top 10 awards were announced in September 2017 with 10 worthy winners taking the top honours. The awards are divided into 3 categories – delicate, medium and intense and oils are awarded accordingly. This year’s top ABSA Top 10 oils included 2 delicate oils, 2 medium oils and 6 intense oils and each one is made by a top local producer. Congratulations to the winners of the ABSA TOP 10 Olive Oils Delicate Category – Rio Largo Gold and Mount Ceder.

ABSA-top-10-Olive Oils

Delicate extra virgin olive oil is characterised by its mild flavour. While stronger intensity olive oils can have a recognisable bitterness and pungency, delicate oils have less of these characteristics and are suited to dishes where a more subtle flavour works. We’ve used a delicate style olive oil to make these beautiful Lemon and Poppy Seed Whoopie Pies with Raspberry Cream. Perfect for teatime!

The ABSA TOP 10 Olive Oils Delicate Category Winners:

Rio Largo

Rio Largo is situated on the banks of the Breede River between Robertson and Worcester. Owned by Nick and Brenda Wilkinson, the estate comprises olive orchards, vines, and olive specific nursery and an olive processing and bottling plant. This is Karoo country. The hot dry summers with low humidity levels create perfect growing and ripening conditions for both olives and grapes. Summer daytime temperatures can be high but the afternoon southeasterly breezes from Cape Agulhas, the ‘wind doctor’ in local parlance, brings relief and cool nights. Rainfall is minimal which together with high sunshine hours and specific computer controlled irrigation out of the Brandvlei dam, makes for a controlled agricultural environment, which produces high-quality fruit.

ABSA TOP 10 Olive Oils Delicate Category Winner: Rio Largo Gold – Delicate
Cultivars: Frantoio and Leccino
Litres produced: 7500 l
Tasting notes: sweet almond, rich in vegetal flavours with hints of artichoke and chicory and aromatic herbs. Bitterness is present and pungency limited.
Best paired with: soups and green salads or simply dunk warm fresh bread into it, subtle enhancing flavours when drizzled over poultry and fish.
Where to buy: Yuppiechef, selected Checkers and Spars.

ABSA TOP 10 Olive Oils Delicate Category Rio Largo
ABSA TOP 10 Olive Oils Delicate Category Rio Largo generic

Rio Largo’s Olive Oil Producer

Nick Wilkinson, a Chartered Accountant by profession, spent twenty years in Central Africa where he established a reputation for fixing failed, large-scale farming enterprises on behalf of blue-chip international investors. In Nick’s words “If you cannot measure it, you cannot control it – stick to the rules, no shortcuts and pay attention to detail,” which formed the backbone of his successful career, the basis of which continues at Rio Largo. Nick went to UC Davis California in 2015, to study more about production techniques and is passionate about all he does at Rio Largo, from tree to table.


Mount Ceder

Mount Ceder is surrounded by the dramatic Cederberg Mountains with majestic views and the crystal clear Grootrivier flows through the farm. The Cape Leopard and Reebok live in tranquillity amongst the 52 hectares of olive trees. The combination of the Karoo soil, good quality irrigation water, very hot summers, very cold winters with little rain and the employees’ absolute involvement, contribute to the award-winning EVOO.

ABSA TOP 10 Olive Oils Delicate Category Winner: Mount Ceder
Cultivars: Frantoio
Litres produced: 7000 l
Tasting notes: fruit of green and ripe olives, olive leaf, walnut and almonds.
Best paired with: light fish and chicken dishes, potatoes, vegetables, salad.
Where to buy: local Spars and delis.

ABSA TOP 10 Olive Oils Delicate Category - Mount Cedar
ABSA TOP 10 Olive Oils Delicate Category Mount Cedar

Mount Ceder’s Olive Oil Producer

Andre Marais has been a shareholder of Mount Ceder since 1997 and has been personally involved with the planning and planting of the olive trees. He is also responsible for the oil that is made for Cederberg Olives and Mount Ceder. The success of their Gold Award Winning Oil can be attributed to the fact that Andre is involved with the entire process from picking, crushing, the oil flow out of the machine – this is where his joy and passion lies. Mount Ceder had an average good quality crop this year with dry and warm to cool weather during the harvest period.


We’ve used a delicate style olive oil to make these beautiful Lemon and Poppy Seed Whoopie Pies with Raspberry Cream. Perfect for teatime!

Absa Top 10 Olive Oil Lemon & Poppy Seed Whoopie Pie With Raspberry Cream

See the winners of the ABSA Top 10 EVOO in the medium and intense categories and the recipes we created using them.

Learn more about tasting olive oil here. Also, learn the important differences between extra virgin olive oil and other olive oil varieties.

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