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)

The Global Shortage of Italian Extra Virgin Olive Oil

2018 was a small olive harvest in Italy as widely documented, with yields falling to a 25-year low and fears that the country may not be able to continuously supply demand until the 2019 harvest release.

 

The major contributing factors were heavy rains, a harsh and earlier winter as well as the on going battle against xylella fastidiosa, a pest born disease that has destroyed vast swathes of olive groves. In Puglia where 50 percent of Italian Olive Oil derives, production was down by 65 percent last autumn.  I don’t wish to make light of these issues, they are very real and they have already had a huge affect on local livelihoods.

From the consumer’s perspective this is also rather serious as market prices for generic Italian Olive Oil have risen by 31% this year, driven by the shortage and you will begin to see this reflected on the supermarket shelf shortly.

 

The major risk in a year such as this is that lesser quality oils or those that come from elsewhere will fill the demand.  And all the while, you will still find ‘Italian Extra Virgin Olive Oil’ on the label.  Unfortunately, however much we wish this wouldn’t happen, it will.

 

This is why it’s even more important to know who has made your olive oil, to have a guarantee that it is extra virgin quality, to know the groves, know which olives are in each bottle, know the mill, know the family.  This year, a few of our producers informed us that there were oils they just weren’t able to make – their standards are so exceptionally high that if they don’t feel the quality will be there to put their name to it, they would rather just not produce it.  I find this incredibly reassuring in years such as this and I hope you do too.

 

We are a small business and we’re still working with small volumes, which means we get to pick the very best oils for you, even in challenging harvests such as 2018.  We taste extensively on your behalf and deal directly with the owner of each frantoio.  These guarantees are therefore personal and we believe that makes a real difference.