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!

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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]

Official Blue Tasting Cups

Official Blue Tasting Cups

We recently traveled to California to take part in the Sensory Evaluation of Olive Oil Course presented by the UC Davis Olive Center and the California Olive Oil Council. Have no fear; we have not strayed from our mission to provide exclusively Italian extra virgin olive oil!

We appreciate the knowledge of the Californians and we were able to translate issues to our business. Throughout the day we tasted extraordinary to ordinary, and even some “aged” oils. Tastings were primarily oils from California, and they only shared the names of the oils that were defect free.

If there was any disappointment in the day, it’s that none of the dozens of samples were Italian olive oils. Yes, we tasted Ascolana and Leccino, but those were grown in California. It would have been great to compare a California-grown Ascolana to Azienda del Carmine’s award winning Ascolana from Marche.  In one segment we tasted California-grown Spanish Picual in early harvest and late harvest pressings. The key descriptor is that the early harvest tasted like a quality artisan oil, while the late harvest was reminiscent of grocery store offerings.

We spent time discussing nasal and retronasal aspects of olive oil. Sounds enchanting? With an element of surprise we were treated to the negative attributes found in fusty and rancid olive oils. Our session leader served a rancid Arbequina, and in the discussion that followed, we learned that she tried a 3-year-old Tuscan and found it too good to be useful for our aged sample. The bitter and pungent characteristics common to Tuscan oils are indicators of high polyphenol levels. Those same strong components hold off rancidity.

In an official tasting, there are a number of restrictions to ensure an unbiased evaluation. The tastings are conducted with blue glassware to eliminate the influence of color. There are scoring sheets designed to make fair evaluations, and the high and low score sheets are discarded. Panelists are isolated, and a minimum of 8 tasters must be present.

In our sessions, ten oils were tasted straight from cups, and then five of those oils were tasted with each of six foods (mozzarella, beans, cherry tomatoes, bread, field greens, and steak).

Our food matching plate

Our food matching plate

As we discussed industry trends, the focused moved to the future of olive oil tasting and evaluation. One bright spot is the development of Association 3E evaluating Super Premium Olive Oil in Florence. La Poderina Toscana is one of the top oils on that list. You can see La Poderina Toscana’s evaluation here.

Quality olive oil has made great strides in a relatively short period of time. The olive oils of the ancient Greeks and Romans would be far more like the oils we now identify as rancid. The characteristics of a premium olive oil (excellent quality olives, good pressing conditions, minimal introduction of oxygen, and controlled bottling, storage, and transportation) were all unknown or unachievable until relatively recent times.  While the ancients made a quality product, critical to their civilizations, they might not recognize today’s best oils.

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

Tasting Table has just published this recipe for Olive Oil Pound Cake with Glazed Apples, and the combination is frankly, magical. Thinking about Olio2go’s selection the first two extra virgin olive oils that come to mind for this just dessert are Olio del Carmine and Principe di Mascio DOP. Both have just the right combination of fruity and not-too-intense to make the most of this delightful dessert.

Los Angeles Olive Oil Competition

Los Angeles Olive Oil Competition

Early word from the 2010 Los Angeles International Olive Oil Awards is that Olio de la Marchia Ascolana has been awarded Best in Class

At Olio2go, we have 10 selections from the notable list of winners — all ready to ship from our warehouse.  The Awards Page can be found here. The best way to see Olio2go’s Los Angeles Awards Selections is to click here.Liguria

Vittorio Cassini Classico, BRONZE MEDAL, Delicate

Marche

Olio de la Marchia, Ascolana, BEST OF CLASS, GOLD MEDAL, Medium

Olio del Carmine, Az. Del Carmine, BRONZE MEDAL, Delicate

Tuscany

Fonterutoli DOP Chianti Classico, Mazzei, SILVER MEDAL, Medium Fruity

Villa Magra Gran Cru, Frantoio Franci, GOLD MEDAL, Robust

Toscano IGP, Frantoio Franci, SILVER MEDAL, Medium

Sicily

Titone Biologica, DOP Valli Trapanesi, SILVER MEDAL, Delicate ** (Not sure what happened here. We would never call this delicate!)

Villa Zottopera, Monti Iblei, GOLD MEDAL Medium

Zisola DOP Monti Iblei, Mazzei, BRONZE MEDAL, Medium