``Working with fine wine for the whole of my career has introduced me to many people who care passionately about the ingredients and provenance of their food and drink. So many of us have become food centric and yet, though we all use extra virgin olive oil as a cooking staple and a dressing, the oil available on the high street is most often below acceptable standards in terms of quality and also health benefits. Our mission is to change the way you buy your extra virgin olive oil by sending it directly from the Frantoio in Italy immediately after it has been milled to offer you as much pleasure and benefit as you get from a mid-summer tomato or a fine glass of wine. This completely guarantees the provenance, the freshness and the quality. Put olive oil centre stage in your kitchen”
Frantoi are mills where the olives are turned into oil. There are thousands scattered all over the major olive regions of Italy and a quick look inside reveals a very broad range of approaches to this art. We have sought out what we consider to be the absolute best in terms of quality and approach across 11 classic olive oil regions of Italy (from North to South: Garda, Friuli, Liguria, Romagna, Tuscany, Umbria, Le Marche, Campania, Calabria, Puglia and Sicily). We have not only selected them based on the philosophy, equipment, hygiene and attention to detail in the mill, but also for their attitude to their olive groves and the environment as a whole. Each frantoio we work with farms organically and takes every reasonable measure to minimise their environmental footprint, by re-using waste elements and caring about their packaging. Where possible we work with family owned businesses, they have passed their tradition down through the generations and are true craftsmen.
Importantly, the producers we work with own their own mill – this is a fundamental point for us and ensures complete quality control from tree to bottle.
It’s not our intention to put down other olive oil producers in comparison – there is a place for everyone in this market – however, it is an incredible shame that mass produced olive oil, masquerading as Extra Virgin Olive Oil and Italian when it is not, has driven the market for true, high quality Italian extra virgin olive oil to the point that these artisans can barely make a profit. There are significant costs involved to work your olive groves manually, to farm organically, to press your olives carefully with great attention to detail, to bottle in dark glass, under inert gas with non-refillable caps (all details that preserve the quality) – but we feel sure that once you have tasted these oils, you will recognise the difference and appreciate the incredible work our producers have put in to achieve such characterful and delicious olive oil that will enhance your cooking, benefit your health and match the quality of the other ingredients on your table.
Frantoio Marco Rizzo
Elizabeth and Kasimir moved to Italy in 2013 shortly after their first son was born.
``We moved from Clerkenwell in London, where we had spent 12 years, to Montalcino in Southern Tuscany. We were utterly convinced that it was better to make this move we had always dreamt of whilst we were still in our 30s and had the energy and passion to start a new life and new projects in this beautiful, yet complicated land. Most people thought we were totally mad – leaving London, the most amazing and successful city, leaving our families and friends, to go to a tiny town in the middle of nowhere where little has changed for a decade. We love our life here and now live just outside the beautiful medieval city of Siena with our two boys, Giacomo and Ludovico.
Since moving to Italy, Extra Virgin Olive Oil and the artisans who make it have become somewhat of an obsession for us. We have an insatiable appetite for travel and seek out frantoi and new cultivars of olives wherever we go.``
Extra Virgin Olive Oil is the only cooking oil made without the use of chemicals or industrial refining. It is the highest quality olive oil class and must be cold-pressed (less than 27°C), because higher temperatures risk changing the quality of the oil. It must contain no more than 0.8% acidity and to be called EVOO, it must have a superior aroma and flavour. Extra Virgin Olive Oil is fragile and therefore should not be exposed to extreme temperatures or direct sunlight. It has a typical shelf life of 18 months from the time of harvest.
You care where your fruit and vegetables come from and in what season you enjoy them, you know your butcher and your fishmonger, you seek out the best Jamon Iberico, Tuscan saffron, Siclian anchovies and Montgomery Cheddar yet when it comes to Extra Virgin Olive Oil, the chances are you are not entirely sure of its provenance. It’s a misty market place – it’s not your fault! However, if you care about your ingredients, then it’s worth knowing from where your EVOO originates. The origin and therefore the cultivars grown there influence the flavour, so it makes a difference.
We believe you should know that the olives pressed in to your oil come from a certain place, grown by a certain person from a particular year. Many olive oils on the market come from multiple origins (despite the label) and are towards the end of their enjoyable shelf life. If you ever want to know more about a specific oil, where it comes from or how it has been made, please do not hesitate to ask us.
It’s not simply the Olive Oil we want to get right, we care hugely about the people that we work with. Our partners mean everything to us, from our talented friend, designer and photographer Michelle Grant to each of the inspiring Frantoi owners and their families. We go to every length to ensure all materials that we are using for packaging and marketing purposes are sustainably sourced and recycled where possible, this is also a standard we expect from each olive oil producer. We work closely with our partners, and we trust them implicitly. And we believe that this respect, for people and for our environment is an essential contributor to all of our success, happiness and future.