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The new 2015 list of awards/recognition for Italian Olive Oils has been released by Slow Food in Italy. Olio2go carries many of farms included in the book.

We carry 12 of the top olive oils recognized by Slow Food Italy. These are estate bottled and sealed. We import in bottles at great expense (glass is heavy!), and feel that the consumer should receive the oil as it left the farm (not passed from tank to tank to bottle).

The full top awards list can be seen here:

SlowFood2015Awards

Chiocciole

Abruzzo, Trappeto di Caprafico

Emilia-Romagna, Tenuta Pennita (coming soon)

Lazio, Colli Etruschi (coming soon)

Sicilia, Biologica Titone

Oli Slow

Sicilia, Biologica Titone

Sicilia, Villa Zottopera Bio

Toscana, Fonte di Foiano 1979 (coming soon)

Toscana, Fonte di Foiano, Frantoio (coming soon)

Grandi Oli

Puglia, DeCarlo Torre di Mossa

Sicilia, Cutrera Primo DOP

Toscana, Franci Olivastra Seggianese (coming soon)

Umbria, Marfuga L’affiorante

All can be purchased at Olio2go.com. We ship promptly within the U.S. and Canada.

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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

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Following on to our popular guest post on Wine and Olive Oil Tours from Pamela Sheldon Johns, we have even more ideas for Wine Touring throughout Italy.

If you are one who likes to plan everything to the smallest detail, you can do your homework in the US and then map out the wineries before leaving for Italy.  You will find that most wineries now have websites that list information about visits and tastings. The major wineries are very well organized.

For the important wineries, it is wise to reserve in advance to be sure that they will be open on the day you want, and someone will be available to translate in your language. Most DOC and DOCG wines have an informational organization that will list the wineries. Google the name of the wine you are interested in and the word consortium (or consorzio in Italian), and you should be able to find some contact info.

If you prefer someone to do the thinking for you, there are several excellent wine tour companies who will make all the arrangements for you.

Generally, olive oil tours are less common, so don’t expect the same structure as with wine.  Olio2Go can assist with contacting producers that are willing to give a tour, but it is best to check first.  Castello del Trebbio does both wine and olive oil tastings, and is located east of Florence.

Beginning at an enoteca is a good way to sample the region’s varieties and then formulate a plan a visit to the ones you really care about.  Most of the wine producing regions have a primary enoteca in the main town of the area.  Many of these carry both wine and oil to sample.

Some of our favorite wine tastings, tours, and enotecas (enoteche):

Tuscany

Avignonesi (must book in advance)

Badia a Coltibuono

Castello del Trebbio, Santa Brigida

Antinori (beautiful building). For a bit of history on Antinori opening to the public after 600 years, here’s an interesting article from Forbes.

Umbria

Marfuga (olive oil and other products), north of Spoleto

Gusto Umbrian Wine Tours, centered around Montefalco

Barberani (property and tasting room outside of town, enoteca in Orvieto)

Veneto

 Serego Alighieri, outside of Verona

 Enoteca “el loco” in Bardolino, on Lake Garda

Piemonte

Enoteca del Barolo, in Barolo

Enoteca Regionale del Barbaresco, Barbaresco

Travel Langhe (organized tours of the entire region)

Sardinia

Ask the staff at Su Barchile in Orosei for suggestions for a really special tour of this rugged area

Sicily

Planeta (Menfi and several other properties), wonderful people

Donna Fugata, Marsala, very impressive story and winery

DiGiovanna, near Marsala, home to Gerbino Olive Oil

Please let us know the highlights of your wine and olive oil visits!

 

Olio2go Travel Guide, Guest Post by Pamela Sheldon Johns

 GrapesbyJeff
 Photo Credit: Jeff Chandler

A word about etiquette for wine-and-olive-oil tourists in Italy, with everything from how to book a tour, what to expect on a tour, what to pay for the tour, and how much you should plan to buy (and possibly ship back).

Bio: Pamela Sheldon Johns

Pamela Sheldon Johns is the author of seventeen books primarily about the traditional and regional foods of Italy. Her recent work includes Silver Spoon Sicily (Phaidon), Cucina Povera, Tuscan Peasant Cooking (Andrews McMeel), and Gelato! (Random House). She is currently working on Silver Spoon Puglia. 

Since 1992, Pamela has led food and wine workshops in several regions of Italy which have been praised by Food & Wine magazine, Wall Street Journal, Cooking Light magazine, and CNN Travel. 

In 2001 Pamela and her family opened Poggio Etrusco, an organic agriturismo/cooking school in southern Tuscany which has been featured in Travel + Leisure magazine. 

You can see more info about her at www.FoodArtisans.com and www.Poggio-Etrusco.com

 
 PSJ_WineGlasses
 Photo Credit: Pamela Sheldon Johns

Q: We’re independent travelers planning a trip to Italy and would like to visit a wine estate. What tips do you have for planning our visit?

A: Most wineries now have websites that list information about visits and tastings. It is wise to reserve in advance to be sure that they will be open on the day you want, and available in your language. Most DOC and DOCG wines have an informational organization that will list the wineries.

Google the name of the wine you are interested in and the word consortium (or consorzio in Italian), and you should be able to find some contact info. You will find that most wineries now have websites that list information about visits and tastings. The major wineries are very well organized.

For the important wineries, it is wise to reserve in advance to be sure that they will be open on the day you want, and someone will be available to translate in your language.

Q: Are there “admission fees”? Should we anticipate a certain fee? Are we expected to buy a number of bottles?

A: This really varies from winery to winery, but nowadays, you can expect to pay a tasting fee, while the visits are often free. There is no obligation to buy.

Q: Should we visit during the harvest? If not, what will we see at other times of the year?

A: You may get more attention when the harvest not going on. Most personnel will be in the vineyards and the cantina at that time!

Q: On our last trip when driving through Tuscany, we noticed hand painted signs advertising wine visits. Can we just drive up the driveway? Should we ask our hotel to call ahead?

A: I would consider those signs an invitation, but if you don’t feel comfortable dropping in, note the name and location, and ask your hotel to set up a visit.

Q: Are there any “don’ts”? We don’t want to be bad guests!

A: Obviously, you don’t want to overdrink. Be mindful of the time allotted for your visit, as there may be other guests arriving for the next tour. Be mindful of the time and try to avoid visiting between noon and 3pm as the family and workers may be enjoying their lunch.

Q: What are the DWI laws in Italy? Should we get a driver for the day?

A: In recent years, the laws have become more strict, and should be considered for your own safety as well. A driver is a great solution, but you can also learn a lot about wine by swishing it in your mouth and spitting. Buy a bottle and enjoy it when you get back to your agriturismo or hotel. If you prefer not to worry about it, you may wish to consider a custom tour.

Q: What will a typical tour include?

Some wineries start in the vineyards and speak about agricultural practices, and most wineries include a walk through the process, from the area where grapes enter and are pressed, through the fermentation and barrel room, all the way to bottling and, finally, the tasting room.

Q: May we ask the winery about olive oil?

A: Of course! Most wine producers also have other products, and will have them available in the tasting room.

 
 PSJ_OliveOilPhoto
 Photo Credit: Pamela Sheldon Johns

On another day, we would like to visit an olive farm. Can you recommend favorites in Tuscany?

I would like to propose my own organic farm, Poggio Etrusco in Montepulciano, where we would be happy to welcome you for an afternoon tasting (we are usually busy with cooking classes in the mornings). I am a certified olive oil taster, and can give you some interesting guidelines for tasting olive oils.  {Note from Olio2go: To join Pamela’s Harvest program, start here: olive harvest program}

Q: On our last trip when driving through Tuscany and Umbria, we noticed hand painted signs advertising olive oil. Can we just drive up the driveway? Should we ask our hotel to call ahead?

A: I would consider those signs an invitation, but if you don’t feel comfortable dropping in, note the name and location, and ask your hotel to set up a visit.

Q: Should we visit during the harvest? If not, what will we see at other times of the year?

A: The olives are usually pressed from mid-October through November or December, depending on the area and weather. It could be interesting to visit a frantoio (olive oil mill). When not working, some mills will let you see the equipment and do an olive oil tasting. One friend of mine in Chianciano Terme (SI) has a video in several languages that shows the entire process.

Q: Will there be a fee? Or are we expected to make a purchase?

A: Every producer is different, but there isn’t usually a fee for a simple olive oil tasting. No one is obligated to buy.

Q: Will food be provided?

A: Bread is sometimes offered for an olive oil tasting.

Q: How do we express our thanks to the host?

Learn to say thank you in Italian. “Grazie” or “Grazie mille” will always be appreciated.

In an upcoming post we will “visit” wine producers and enotecas, so be sure to subscribe to this blog.

As a starting point, for an olive oil tour, consider these producers in Tuscany:

Poggio Etrusco  (buy here)

Oliveto Fonte di Foiano  (buy here)

Badia a Coltibuono (buy here)

La Poderina Toscana (buy here)

Castello del Trebbio (buy here soon)

We hope you enjoy your next trip to Italy. Please let us know of your favorite wine and olive oil visits, by sending a note to Olio2go’s Customer Service

Celebrate the Best Olive Oils from Italy!

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2014 Los Angeles Award Winners at Olio2go

2014 Los Angeles Award Winners at Olio2go

 

 

(Updated June 2014)

Just as with wine, there are international olive oil awards. The most recent award presentations can be found through the links below, and these very rare olive oils, available for purchase in the U.S. at Olio2go, are listed here.

BIOL International, March 2014

Olio Capitale: Annual Competition held in Trieste, March 2014

SOL/Vinitaly: SOL is held in together with Vinitaly in Verona, April 2014

New York International Olive Oil Competition, April 2014

Los Angeles International Olive, April 2014

 

The following award winners are currently available at Olio2go. All are extra virgin olive oils from the most recent harvest.

Centonze Extra Virgin Olive Oil

BIOL, Gold, Silver

Los Angeles: Gold Medal

Crudo Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Los Angeles: Silver Medal

DeCarlo Arcamone

BIOL, ExtraGold

Olio Capitale: Finalist, Intense

Fattoria Ramerino Primus Extra Virgin Olive Oil

BIOL, ExtraGold

Los Angeles: Gold Medal

Fattoria Ramerino Dulcis  Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Los Angeles: Gold Medal

Fattoria Ramerino Cultivar Frantoio Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Los Angeles:  Marco Mugelli Prize, Best of Show, Best of Class, Gold Medal

Fattoria Ramerino Cultivar Moraiolo Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Los Angeles: Gold Medal

Fonte di Foiano “1979”

Los Angeles: Gold Medal

Frantoi Cutrera Primo DOP

BIOL, ExtraGold

NYIOOC: Gold, Robust, Tonda Iblei

Los Angeles: Bronze Medal

Fratelli Colletti Extra Virgin Olive Oil

NYIOOC: Gold, Robust, Biancolilla

Los Angeles: Silver Medal

Frescobaldi Laudemio

Los Angeles: Bronze Medal

Gianfranco Becchina Olio Verde

NYIOOC: Silver, Medium, Nocellara del Belice

La Poderina Toscana Oro DOP Seggianese

BIOL, Gold

La Poderina Toscana Argento

BIOL, Gold

Marfuga L’affiorante

BIOL, Gold

Ascolana, Azienda del Carmine

Los Angeles: Gold Medal, Best of Class

Olio Librandi Nocellara del Belice (Tenute Librandi Pasquale)

BIOL, ExtraGold, 1* BIOL Calabria

Quattrociocchi Olivastro

BIOL, Gold

NYIOOC: Gold, Medium, Itrana

SOL: Bronze, Organic

Tenuta di Capezzana

NYIOOC: Gold, Medium

Titone DOP Extra Virgin Olive Oil

BIOL, ExtraGold

NYIOOC: Silver, Medium

Villa Zottopera (BIO sold out 6/24/14)

Los Angeles: Gold Medal

Don’t miss out! Some of these are already in short supply at Olio2go.

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Click to Listen: Taste Matters Episode with Nancy Harmon Jenkins (#125)

We’ve just discovered the Heritage Radio Network and enjoyed listening to this superb interview with Nancy Harmon Jenkins. The interview covers many important topics — Olive Oil is covered in the first 11 minutes — including our central focus on Italian Olive Oil. The Mediterranean Diet, lifestyle, cooking with olive oil, Slow Food, and ancient grains (like farro) are included. Listen to Nancy and then visit Olio2go for Italy’s Finest Olive Oil.

Olio2go:  Internet Purveyor of Italy’s Finest

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Celebrating our 15th year of selling Italy’s authentic olive oils to discerning consumers! We’re thrilled to have been interviewed by the Olive Oil Times for our role in bringing authentic Italian extra virgin olive oil to the U.S.

Here’s our mini FAQ:

Olive Oil: The juice pressed from fresh olives. The quality is depends on the ripeness and condition of the olives at the time of pressing. Olives that are just ripening and have no bad fruit, when crushed promptly, produce the highest quality olive oil, extra virgin.

Extra Virgin Olive Oil: Acidity level below 0.80% and a professional organoleptic taste test indicating no faults. This is the best quality of olive oil, and those with the lowest acidity levels are considered Super Premium.

Olive Oil Benefits: Many of the known and researched benefits of olive oil are tied to the Mediterranean Diet and issues related to Inflammation (The Zone Diet). The FDA allows a health claim to be included on the labels of olive oils.

Italian Olive Oil: We’re passionate about Italian olive oils because of the craftsmanship and care – and centuries of traditions. To us, others are fine, but Italian olive oils are the best. While any olive oil bottled in Italy can carry the Product of Italy label, we work with carefully selected producers to ensure authentic production and quality.

Crush Dates and Labels: It is important to read an olive oil label, but we recommend that you read it carefully and with thought. A Tuscan olive oil will simply be labeled as Raccolto 2013, because Tuscan olives are only harvested between late October and early December each year (with slight variations for weather conditions). You may also be interested to learn more about organic certification and labeling for olive oil.

How do Italian Extra Virgin Olive Oils Differ? Northern olive oils tend to be exquisite and less intense than those from other regions. Tuscan selections tend to be intense and flavorful and peppery; those from Umbria are slightly rounder than the Tuscans in flavor. Those from Lazio (the region of Rome) bring forth essences of green, while those from Puglia (the heel of the boot) finish with a strong pepper kick. The extra virgin olive oil selections from Sicily are grassy and some offer elements of tomato. There are many differences, but that’s the quick list of characteristics.

Cooking with olive oil: This is a favorite topic and we look at it simply. The producers do not buy olive oil to cook with. They use what they have carefully nurtured and crafted. A home, we keep 2-3 bottles in the cool, dark cupboard and choose the bottle with the least if we need a couple of tablespoons to roast vegetables or sauté chicken cutlets.

How to Store Olive Oil: In a cool, dark place. We do not recommend a refrigerator as some may get too cold. (And the refrigerator test is not valid).

For more information on quality extra virgin olive oil, we recommend the Olio2go Olive Oil FAQ and this piece on the Anatomy of a Great (Olive Oil) Label.

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