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)

How to taste | Frantoi
Small dark glasses are typically used to taste olive oil because colour is a minor factor in judging quality and style. The glass is warmed in the hands ideally to around 28°C (the temperature at which the oil's aromatic substances become volatile) and then you take in the full aromas firstly just by smelling.
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Frantoi - tasting evoo

How to taste

Small dark glasses are typically used to taste olive oil because colour is a minor factor in judging quality and style. The glass is warmed in the hands ideally to around 28°C (the temperature at which the oil’s aromatic substances become volatile) and then you take in the full aromas firstly just by smelling. You then take a small amount in to your mouth and perform a kind of slurping or sharp intake of air known as strippaggio which allows an oxygen exchange, similar to wine tasting, that allows full appreciation of the taste, texture and complexity.

 

Alternatively, you can just pour over a piece of unflavoured bread – it’s less technical, but you may find it more enjoyable.

 

You are looking to identify various characteristics in high quality Extra Virgin Olive Oil, the main three being bitterness (detected from the middle of your tongue and back), pungency (detected at the back of your tongue and in your throat, it may feel quite peppery) and fruitiness (the range of fruit/vegetable aromas that you can describe the oil with to help you recall its flavour and figure out what to serve it with).

 

If you ever get to the point where you want to learn about olive oil in depth, Olive Oil Expert Judy Ridgway offers classes in London and in Brighton.