LOCATION AND CLIMATE

 

As you might expect, olives grown in cooler areas where there is more moisture (rainfall and dew) exhibit leaner, more restrained characteristics.  This doesn’t however mean that great oil can now be made in Iceland – you need a minimum amount of sunshine to make your Extra Virgin Olive Oil taste remarkable, similarly to tomatoes or stone fruit.

Olive trees are sensitive to winter freeze (the Casaliva cultivar is more resistant to cold, hence being grown in the Garda region).  It is also easier to farm organically where the climate is more stable and less chemical sprays are required to keep the trees healthy.

OLIVE MATURITY

 

Here’s the thing – all olives are green.  When they become fully mature, they turn black.
Olive maturity at the time of harvest is a major factor in flavour and quality: olives harvested earlier (green olives) feature more bitter, grassy characteristics, with lower yields and with the highest anti-oxidant content.  The oil is a much more intense green colour and has a longer shelf-life.  In terms of production, milling can take longer with green olives (a longer malaxation - the action of slowly churning milled olives to release droplets of oil - is needed and can be more complicated) but the results are far superior!  Don’t choose olive oil from over mature fruit: it lacks all the potential goodness and flavour.

ATTENTION TO DETAIL IN GROVE AND MILL

 

People who care passionately about what they make and follow it personally every day have the capacity to create products with far higher quality, with integrity, and that taste of where they come from.  They are also able to do this by caring for the environment they inhabit.

FRANTOIO DI RIVA BOX

This box contains 6 bottles of extra virgin olive oil made exclusively by Frantoio di Riva from groves on the banks of lake Garda.

Frantoio di Riva, 46°PARALLELO green label x 3 bottles (50cl)
Frantoio di Riva, 46°PARALLELO organic white label x 1 bottle (50cl)
Frantoio di Riva, 46°PARALLELO blue label x 1 bottle (50cl)
Frantoio di Riva, ULIVA Garda Trentino DOP x 1 bottle (50cl)

Between the Sibillini and the Sea

There is something deeply gratifying about setting off on an adventure in search of new flavours.  It is one of our main reasons for living in this wildly complicated country and we are regularly dumbstruck by the regional diversity and quality that Italy has to offer.

 

We are not looking to add new producers to our collection just for the sake of it, but sometimes the road takes you in a certain direction and you feel the love.  This happened earlier in the year when I first tasted the olive oils made by Stefano and Luca Gregori.  So we piled the kids in to the car and went to investigate.

Based in the foothills of the Monti Sibillini as they stretch down towards the Adriatic, in the region of Le Marche, the Gregori family farms three distinctive groves totalling 2,500 trees. The land has been in their family since the ‘50s, farmed in a traditional way by the Nonni including a broad selection of crops, largely for subsistence purposes. The land was passed to the two brothers, Stefano and Luca in 2009 who have worked hard to convert the land in to a beautiful, certified organic Olive farm. They dedicate all their time to this small operation and their attention to detail really comes through in the oils.

Le Marche is still relatively undiscovered in terms of tourism despite its beautiful mountains full of breath taking wild flowers and blissful coastline where local seafood recipes come into their own. As a region it thrives on agriculture in particular grapes, cereals, olives and vegetables and life here continues in a relatively simple way, as it has done for generations. The area has been through a huge amount in recent years, particularly with the tragic earthquakes in 2016 and it is a testament to the character of the local people that they have rebuilt their existences with such grace.

The Gregori brothers are truly committed to making great Extra Virgin Olive Oil from their land. Luca, who is in his mid 20s and just completing his second degree as an Agronomist, cares for the land and the trees. His life as a student has given him access to the very latest information on organic land management and he is experimenting with different anti-insect methods (specifically targeting the notorious olive fly). Stefano, in his early 30s is head of the family and looks after the business with great attention. He seeks to bring his region to a higher gastronomic plain, collaborating with acclaimed chefs and ensuring their olives and oils are the very best each year.  They have installed a new frantoio this year, it is small but perfect and the results are distinctive and delicious.