Savantes Savourgram © to be Introduced at Savantes Melbourne, March 2023

The internationally acclaimed International Extra Virgin Olive Oil Savantes Programme will restart in Melbourne with yet another innovation.

With programmes held prepandemic in 11 countries Savantes has introduced the Savantes Skills Test recognising individual tasters, the national Team Tasting Championships in France, Spain and Greece, and the inaugural World Team Tasting Championship held in Spain in 2019.

Now Savantes has developed a new creative multi-dimensional method of tasting and recording extra virgin olive oils.

In the continuing development of the Savantes tasting philosophy we have developed the concept of ‘The Palette of Flavours’ with colours representing the positive characteristics of fruitiness (blue), bitterness (green) and spiciness (red).

To represent the progression of flavours along the palate, a graph has been devised with the vertical axis representing intensity and the horizontal axis representing time in one second intervals.

By tasting the extra virgin olive oil three times – concentrating on one characteristic each time – a visual representation of the intensities and length of each can be developed. The resulting ‘Savantes Savourgram’ gives an excellent display of the comparative intensities and persistence of fruitiness, bitterness and spiciness. The balance, complexity, harmony and persistence can be assessed by looking at the Savourgram.

The addition of the fruits, vegetal, spicy and nutty food ingredient flavours detected, and where on the palate they occur, completes an evocative picture for the consumer of the oil.


The process is a practical visual way to compare the assessment of oils between tasters and to represent the aroma and flavour profile to consumers on websites.

The Savourgram provides a visual tool to introduce consumers to the positive flavour characteristics of a range of extra virgin olive oils.

It will also assist in the blending of oils to achieve a particular flavour profile.


International Extra Virgin Olive Oil Savantes was started in 2001 to open the world of extra virgin oil to commercial producers, traders and enthusiasts outside the olive oil institutions.

Founded by Salsi Pty Ltd, an olive oil producer, the genesis of the tasting approach was objective evaluation of the extra virgin olive oil as a food ingredient. This allowed the freedom to develop a tasting philosophy and process which was couched in commercial reality, while respecting the integrity of the product established by formal panel tasting classification.

The tasting process has continued to evolve over 20 years with the help of the thousands of tasters from every facet of the food industry who have participated in Savantes courses and events worldwide.

There is evidence that Savantes has broadened the scope of tasters, expanded the knowledge of styles across regions and fostered respect for varietals and products in the entire global industry.

The Savantes Skills Test has introduced an international measure of accountability for individuals who claim tasting expertise obtained through a range of training programmes.

Tasting philosophy

The Savantes ethos is to look for the positive attributes of extra virgin olive oils first. This is the reverse of the institutional approach where the taster looks for defects first, often leading to defaulting to ‘defect’ when an unfamiliar element or nuance is found in the flavour profile. This industry-wide technical approach discourages the development of new flavours and results in standardisation of the product and a predisposition to defects. There are many practical examples of this with tasters from different regions perceiving oils with the nutty tastes of the French L’Aglandau or Greek Koroneiki as rancid or deeming the tropical fruity flavour of ripe Spanish Picual olive oils as fusty.

Technical tasting

Technical tasting for classification of extra virgin olive involves the description of the intensities of the three positive characteristics of extra virgin olive oils: fruitiness, bitterness and spiciness. Before the intensities are described the taster must decide if there are defects in the olive oil.

For competitions there are additional descriptions of the flavours which differentiate the oils beyond intensity.

Visually these descriptions are often recorded as a ‘spidergraph’ or column graph which are linear and static.

Savantes Tasting Process

Hitherto the Savantes tasting  process has encouraged the taster to describe the aroma of the oil with reference to food ingredients – fruit, vegetables, spices and nuts. The flavours on the palate are described in the same way and importantly in their sequential tastes as they pass from the front through the middle to the back palate and finally in the throat.

The taster develops a reference range of intensities, balance, complexity, harmony and persistence, or length, of the oil. These descriptive references are personal and dependent on the experience of the taster. 

© 2022 Salsi Pty Ltd trading as International Extra Virgin Olive Oil Savantes

The Savourgram is the intellectual property and copyright of Salsi Pty Ltd trading as international Extra Virgin Olive Oil Savantes.

Simon Field
December 2022