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 SEASON SO FAR…

Italy has had a proper winter this year.  Finally un bello freddo to allow the olive trees to fully shut down and rest after the growing season and harvest.  And it’s fair to say we really needed that because the super cold also has an important sterilising effect, protecting the trees from pests and diseases.  Snowmen were built, even in Sicily, and this was followed by an impressive amount of rain throughout the country.  All good: we have had a few dry years and the ground reserves really needed replenishing.
What is unusual however is that we haven’t really seen much of a spring, we had a glimpse of it in April but May has been incredibly wet and really rather cool by Italian standards as a lethargic front hovers over Southern Europe.  The sheer quantity of water has lead to an abundance of growth, the flowers this year are sensational and pastures are a forager’s dream.  The dampness however does come with obvious risks – our growers have to pay incredible attention to their groves to ensure diseases don’t take hold.  It’s another huge benefit to be working with producers who own their olive trees: they are fully in control of the quality throughout the growing season.
It strikes me that it’s quite impossible to see patterns in our weather any more (maybe it’s always been like that, but perhaps I didn’t see it this way before).  No two years seem to be the same.  The wine trade has a habit of comparing vintages to each other to give an indication of where the quality might land, with a year like 2018 it is still too early to call it.  Early indications are extremely positive but everything is still to play for over the summer months.