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)

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Blend vs Monocultivar

We are frequently asked whether a monocultivar oil is better than a blend of multi cultivars.  The best way to explain this is via wine.  A wine made of a single varietal isn’t necessarily better – many of the best wines in the world are a blend of more than one variety, think Chateau Margaux, Vieux Telegraphe Chateuneuf du Pape or Sassicaia. The important point is that a blend of cultivars should be greater than the sum of its parts.

In oil terms, one of our favourite blends is Tradizione from Frantoio Viola, it combines the classic central Italian cultivars Frantoio and Leccino and it is the olive oil that started us on this journey at Frantoi.org.  We use it both to cook and dress food with such is its versatility.  It has a great artichoke and wild herb character plus a hint of black pepper, particularly good therefore with pulses, grains and root vegetables.

With a monocultivar olive oil, you get more defined characteristics, this is where we can differentiate more clearly from one region to another and therefore it’s more obvious which oil compliments which food.

Taggiasca (from Liguria) for example is a small, sweet olive and at its best produces elegant, mild and delicate oil without too much spice making it a great choice for grilled white fish or meat.  Whereas a cultivar such as Nocellara Etnea, indigenous to Sicily is highly herbaceous featuring oregano, Jerusalem sage and cut grass: more spice, more bitterness, more decisive and therefore suited to raw foods particularly tartare or crudités.

We are increasingly seeking ingredients that have a sense of place, that truly reflect their origin in flavour and this is absolutely the case with the best examples of Extra Virgin Olive Oil either blended or monocultivar.  And if you enjoy the oil as close as possible to its harvest date then the characteristics will be even more defined: fresher, more delicious and better for you.