It has cooled down significantly here in Tuscany over the past couple of weeks. Chilly evenings and misty mornings signal the beginning of autumn and we are abuzz with harvest. Each season has its challenges of course and this year has been no exception. Due to a fairly cool and damp spring, flowering was late and sporadic in many areas of Italy.
This coupled with a warmer winter than usual where the trees didn’t shut down fully for long meant they had less resistance to external problems (it’s the same for all of us!) and an olive fly plagued certain parts of the country reducing yields quite significantly for 2016.
Despite all of this, our frantoi owners from Garda to Sicily have managed to stick to their organic farming philosophy and have begun to hand harvest the first crop of green olives. This is hard work, they are harder to pluck off the tree and when it comes to malaxing and pressing, green olives yield less oil. It might seem like a thankless task… until you taste the results.
2016 is a year to look carefully at what you are buying. Rather like with wine, in a difficult year, you really get to see the quality of each producer – the most fastidious producers still make amazing Olive Oil, just less of it. As Italy in general will have lower yields, there is likely to be more oil on the market labeled as Italian but perhaps just bottled in Italy with fruit deriving from elsewhere. Also, the producers that have meticulously sorted their olives before pressing will have made the best oil – and for this reason you have to control the process fully yourself. Owning your olive groves as well as your own mill (frantoio) puts you at a massive advantage.
We have selected what we consider to be the very best of the 2016 harvest for you. Made by people we know and trust.