RadarFlorenceSept2014

For three months now there have been stunning reports of the difficult, challenging, and horrible olive harvest in Italy. Decades have passed since such a crisis last occurred, and that, the Tuscan freeze of 1985, did not reach the broad geographical proportions of this one.

During the month of October, we learned of the losses on a daily basis. Each phone call and email told a tale of crop failures and weather issues. Few areas were immune. In general, windstorms, rain, a cool summer, and a hailstorm were the weather issues. A bug and a fungus took hold as well.

Videos of the 18 September 2014 hailstorm in Tuscany can be seen here and here.

As reported to us, the harvests in Sicily were early and small. Problems were noted from The Veneto to Puglia. Producers in Tuscany, Umbria, Marche, and Abruzzo piled on tales of woe.

Outstanding producers chose to bottle no oil in the fall of 2014: Tenuta di Capezzana, Poggio Etrusco, Avignonesi, Fattoria di Monti, Decimi, and others.  We were informed of difficulties among many others who have valiantly produced much smaller quantities than normal. And, need we mention price increases?

There is a human toll that goes far beyond the kitchen table. Families, including farm workers, and bottlers, have experienced reduced wages from the poor harvest. Quality olive oil will likely cost more than ever.

Remembering that there are always variations in characteristics for year to year, the 2014s we have tasted provide a remarkable testament to the skills of the producers. Aromatic, fresh, grassy, bitter, and spicy can all be found in our lucky bottles.

Jan2015Grp

We continue to remain optimistic as we have carefully sourced 30 selections so far this season. Our full line of new olive oils (many shown in photo) can be purchased here.

Frantoi Cutrera, Frescolio and Primo DOP

La Poderina Toscana Organic, Oro and Argento

Gianfranco Becchina’s Olio Verde Novello

Frescobaldi First Pressing

Titone Novello

Santisi Novello

Azienda del Carmine, Ascolana and Olio del Carmine

CantinArte OroPuro

di Giovanna (Gerbino Biologica)

Marfuga L’Affiorante 

Villa Zottopera Bio and Rosso

Fratelli Colletti

Fattoria Ramerino Primus and Cultivar Frantoio

Principe di Mascio, Novello and DOP

Quattrociocchi Olivastro

In the coming months we look forward to arrivals of many more selections from Italy, including favorites such as:

Olio Librandi

Centonze

Gargiulo Sorrentolio Venus

La Pennita, Alina

Castello del Trebbio

Badia a Coltibuono

Our challenge is to continue to bring in the best Italian extra virgin olive oil in quantities to carry us through to the 2015 harvest.

 

For more information on the topic of the 2014 olive harvest, we recommend the following clicks:

New York Times: Amid bugs, hail, floods…

Los Angeles Times: Europe Suffers Olive Oil Disaster

NPR: Olive Oil Producers in Crisis

New2014

With the arrivals of the new harvest olive oils comes the first of the new awards and recognitions for high quality extra virgin olive oil.

The 2014 Flos Olei, published early in the harvest year, is the well regarded Marco Oreggia review of olive oils. In general, Flos Olei 2014 awarded the 2012 harvest selections. It is seen by many as a watchdog of consistent quality in the industry with the idea that the recognized producers provide consistently exceptional olive oils from year to year. You can see last year’s list here.

In the 2014 edition, Flos Olei’s Top 20 awards three of the olive oils we regularly carry. Most notably, we already have Quattrociocchi’s Olivastro Bio 2013, awarded Best Olive Oil from Organic Farming by Flos Olei’s Marco Orreggia.

From the Top 20

Farm of the Year: DeCarlo (new harvest coming soon)

Best Olive Oil from Organic Farming: Quattrociocchi Olivastro Bio 2013

Best Extra Virgin Intensely FruityFrantoio Franci Villa Magra

The Flos Olei guide lists an abundance of well-regarded olive oil producers (we will carry harvest 2013 selections – they are in stock or on order):

Trentino Alto – Adige

Frantoio di Riva, 2013 in stock!

Emilia Romagna

Tenuta Pennita, Alina in stock

Toscana

Tenuta di Capezzana, 2013 in stock

Oliveto Fonte di Foiano, samplers in stock, more expected in early January

Frantoio Franci, selections

La Poderina Toscana, Oro and Argento in stock

Fattoria di Monti, three selections in stock

Fattoria Ramerino, Guadagnòlo Primus in stock!

Marche

Azienda del Carmine, arriving January 2014

Umbria

Az. Agr. Marfuga, L’affiorante in stock

Lazio

Società Agricola Colli Etruschi, arriving soon

Az Agr Bio Americo Quattrociocchi, in stock

Campania

Madonna dell’Olivo, Raro and Itrans selections available

Puglia

Az. Agr. DeCarlo, restocking soon

Calabria

Tenute Pasquale Librandi, selections arriving January 2014

Sicily

Azienda Agricola Antonino Centonze, Arriving January 2014

Frantoi Cutrera, in stock

Planeta, selections available

Azienda Agricola Ravida, selections available

Azienda Agricola Biologica Titone, 2013 coming soon!

by Barry Sears

This book references the olive oils at Olio2go

We receive many requests for olive oils with notable levels of hydroxytyrosol as indicated by the peppery flavors.

Many of these requests come to us from readers of Dr. Barry Sears’ book, The Anti-Inflammation Zone. (Olio2go is mentioned on page 92). Those readers and other Zone Diet followers have been looking for top olive oils for their diets.

As such, they have been on a quest for olive oils with high levels of hydroxytyrosol. As there is no standard test for hydroxytyrosol, the best indicator is the polyphenol level.

Several Olio2go selections have been popular choices. We have included polyphenol levels or indicators in the descriptions for the following extra virgin olive oils to help Zone Diet followers make their selections:

Principe di Mascio DOP Colli Assisi Spoleto (2011, 510 mg/kg)

Marfuga L’affiorante (2012, 534 mg/kg)

Fattoria di Monti Extra Virgin Olive Oil (2012, 722 mg/kg)

Fattoria di Monti RAZZO Extra Virgin Olive Oil (2012, 751 mg/kg)

Villa Magra Gran Cru (544)

Olio Beato Organic (level not stated, but a very popular selection)

Tom Mueller’s Extra Virginity

Much has been said and written about Tom Mueller’s book, Extra Virginity: The Sublime and Scandalous World of Olive Oil, since it was published in late 2011. (You can see it on our Recommendations page).

We appreciated the minutiae and the revealing details in the quest for authentic extra virgin olive oil. We closely read the snippets and stories of olive oil production in Italy, Spain, Australia, and California.

Mueller’s book includes facets of the industry that are very important to us. Sift through and you will find production costs (up to $800 per ton for picking and milling in California), tree to mill timing, and impossibly low prices in restaurant supply chains.

We were thrilled to see the recognition for Villa Magra Gran Cru on the early pages, and we continue to be certain of our mission to import estate bottled olive oils for our customers.

While the farm-to-table route may be a bit long, our goal is to deliver authenticity, excellence, and character straight to your kitchen just as it departed the frantoio in Italy. Some of our producers are so small that they don’t produce enough to put a case in every WF (~ 3oo stores ~ guess!) store across the country. More laughable would be the idea their oils could be stocked in a big box club store.

Through the book, Mueller also reveals the delivery of a tainted bulk bladder of olive oil, described as like a small green whale, which picked up elements of contamination enroute. It took its journey via shipping container which had previously been treated with pesticides. The flexible bladder absorbed the pesticides, and while detected in time, the end result is a lawsuit. That’s why we continue to import oil in glass bottles. While the weight contributes to the cost, the integrity of the product is maintained.

One of the biggest trends in olive oil sales in the U.S. are the bulk oil stores. Our extra virgin olive oil is sold like wine, based on the authenticity, estate, region, terroir, cultivars, and food pairings. The more layers or pathways between tree and table, the greater possibility of deception. Bottles, sealed, labeled, numbered, and leaving the estate just as they arrive to you, carries forth our mission to provide authentic Italian extra virgin olive oil.

So, which Italian extra virgin olive oils does Mueller recommend? Here’s his list. You can find a selection of them on our site. Scroll down to selected brands by nation, Italy:

You can find the following at Olio2go right now (with a few coming soon!): Tenuta Pennita (Alina), Colli Etruschi (more coming soon), Fontansalsa (Gemini), Fattoria di Monti (Monti and Razzo) Titone, Villa Zottopera (Rosso), DeCarlo of Puglia (noted in an early chapter of Extravirginity!), CetroneQuattrociocchi, Marina Colonna, Crudo,  Frescobaldi Laudemio, and the collection of oils from Frantoio Franci.

Let us know what you think!

[updated 1 January 2013]

Award winners in stock at Olio2go

Fabulous Olive Oils from the Los Angeles Competition

Olive Oil Award Winners: 2011 Los Angeles Competition

The last major awards of the olive oil year were bestowed last week at the Los Angeles International Olive Oil Competition. (They have an impressive wine competition, too!)

With 12 Italian Award winners, we have a greater selection of winners than any other store. We invite you to taste these astounding olive oils!

Cafaggio is available in an oil and vinegar gift set. Ascolana and Olio del Carmine may be purchased individually or within the sampler gift set.

Left to right, the awards are noted below.

Olio Verde al Limone, Bronze Medal, Sicily
Olio Verde, Silver Medal, Sicily
Frescobaldi Laudemio (bottom box), Silver Medal, Tuscany
Azienda del Carmine Sampler Set containing four selections, Marche
Olio de la Marchia, Ascolana, Silver Medal, Marche
Olio del Carmine, Silver Medal, Marche
Rosso from Villa Zottopera, Best of Class, Gold Medal, Sicily
Primo from Frantoio Cutrera, Silver Medal, Sicily
Titone Biologica DOP, Silver Medal, Sicily
Tenuta di Capezzana, Silver Medal, Tuscany
Cafaggio, Bronze Medal, Tuscany
Agrumato Tangerine, Bronze Medal, Abruzzo
Crudo, Silver Medal, Puglia

The full Wine and Olive Oil results by country:
Wine
Olive Oil

Principe di Mascio, Rosso, and Trapetto di Caprafico DOP

Top Award Winners

Some folks choose the grocery store oil, assuming it to be extra virgin olive oil. Knowledgable consumers are skeptical, and true fans of olive oil seek award winners. With any of these selections your choices will be a long way from the grocery store shelves. These 2010 olive oils and their coveted awards represent the best olive oils in the world — and these are the top Italian selections.

We scour the olive oil awards as they are released each year (you can find links on our web site) both to identify the awards received by our current producers and to look for new oils to stock. Five major award presentations have been announced in 2011 awards (for 2010 harvest oils). The last major awards are bestowed in June, and those are the Los Angeles International Olive Oil Awards.

Slow Food – the leading authority on authentic, traditional olive oil, awards released May 2011

“Garland” –
Frantoio Franci estate, oils arriving in June

“Tre Olive” –
La Pennita, Alina, Brisighella
Ravida
Titone Biologica DOP
Frescobaldi Laudemio

“Gli Extravergini dell’Emozione” –
Trappeto di Caprafico Organic DOP
Raro, Madonna dell’Oliva
Colli Etruschi
Villa Magra Gran Cru (2009 currently available, 2010 arriving in June)
Villa Magra dei Franci (arriving in June)
Marfuga L’affiorante
Principe di Mascio DOP

International Olive Oil Awards – Zurich (award released April 2011)
Titone Biologica DOP, Golden Olive
Primo DOP Special Mention, Fruttato Intenso, also Gran Menzione in the DOP Category

Sirena d’Oro di Sorrento (awards released March 2011)
Trappeto di Caprifico, Bio, DOP – Second Place, Fruttato Medio
Titone Bio DOP, Fruttato Intenso, 1st place
Principe di Mascio DOP, 2nd place, Fruttato Medio

National Competition L’orciolo d’Oro 2011 (awards released March 2011)
Principe di Mascio DOP DOP Category, 3rd place
La Poderina Toscana Organic, DOP Category, Gran Menzione
Rosso from Villa Zottopera, Gran Menzione, Fruttato Intenso
Ravida, Gran Menzione, Fruttato Leggero
Raro Madonna dell’Oliva, 1st Place, Fruttato Intenso
Titone DOP Biologica, Special Mention, Fruttato Medio; also Organic, Gran Menzione

SOL/Vinitaly
Olio de la Marchia, Ascolana – Gran Mention, Fruttato Medio
Rosso from Villa Zottopera, Bronze, Fruttato Medio
Trappeto di Caprifico (Masciantonio), Bio, DOP – Special Mention, Fruttato Intenso
Frantoio Franci, Gran Menzione (arriving in June)
Titone DOP Biologica – Gran Menzione

Last week we received our most recent shipment from Italy– a large shipment of olive oil (link) and one secret treat. This shipment was organized in early March, arrived in port in the U.S. on April 4, experienced a delay in customs and then was trucked to our warehouse. During that time, the dollar lost value as the Euro rose from $1.38 to $1.45. That swing adds a challenge to both purchasing and pricing. You can link to all of these new products from here.

We’ve sought oils from favorite producers, recognized award winners, and a few new gems from less-discovered areas. Our new selections include gems from Brisighella to the north and Potenza to the south. The favorties include Ursini Tandem (Abruzzo), Principe di Mascio (Umbria), and three selections from Azienda del Carmine. We are very excited to add Rosso, the Gran Cru selection from Villa Zottopera.

One of the northernmost regions for olive oil production is a small area of Emilia Romagna. The Brisighella region is the home to the Brisighella olive, recognized by the European Union through the DOP mark. The source of most Brisighella olives is located between Terra del Sole and Brisighella, mapped in the Provinces of Forli-Cesena and Ravenna respectively. The oil is of a superior quality, green in color with a golden glint. Our selection is Alina, a 100% Nostrana di Brisighella monocultivar.

Our discovery of Bochicchio, in the area of Potenza, helps us to bring in a new taste experience from little-travelled Basilicata. Basilicata is a somewhat isolated area with only three main rail lines through the region. You could say that it is in the arch of the sole of the boot, nestled between the heel and the toe of southern Italy. The cuisine is spicy with peppers, salumi, sopressata, and remarkable olive oils.

The one secret food in this shipment is Livio Pesle Balsamic Vinegar Wine Jelly. Each time we’ve been able to stock it, we’ve had strong sales with this great burst of flavor in well-designed packaging. The wine jelly was last imported by a much larger (grocery) entity and we’re sure this little gem got caught in the spreadsheets. It’s a unique specialty food item, perfect for customers seeking the finest food experiences. We like this for two reasons. It is a marvelous little gift, and a wonderful token of friendship. And the other, supremely important reason is flavor. This balsamic vinegar wine jelly is packed with intense winey grapey goodness. Place a dollop on a cheese plate and your food compatriots will want to sample it in combination with each cheese presented. This is often purchased by the case (6 jars) as it is easy to keep on hand.

Through our search we look for authentic and spectacular extra virgin olive oils and specialty foods – all from Italy. We truly seek the top representations from each region. While we re-stock old favorites, we also seek out new regional selections. These discoveries often tell us that their placement with Olio2go is their first placement outside of Italy or outside of the European Union.

How do we make these discoveries? On our trips to Italy and also through word of mouth. We appreciate customer recommendations. Some Italian producers recommend us to others. In other cases, producers seek us out because they are impressed by the size of our list and they wish to be carried on the same pages.

We invite you to taste and choose your favorites.