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

FustiX

On August 20, 2014, the United Kingdom (UK) disallowed the sale of all unflavored olive oils on tap.

This impacts the “fill your own” shops, stores where bottles are filled or refilled from the stainless steel fusti tanks on display.

From the Olive Oil Times:

“Critics of the concept say the shops are often ill-equipped to handle, store and dispense olive oil, and that they bypass Europe’s stricter labeling laws.”

Shiny fusti tanks are visually appealing, but in the UK these can no longer be used to dispense as the consumer watches.

We believe the heart of this matter is accurate labeling and product integrity. Stop and think. The olive oil does not ship to those stores in those sleek, attractive containers. It ships in a drum, a jug, or some other shippable container. And, then you must trust the cleanliness of the back room where the oil is transferred from one container to another.

Does this matter to the US FDA? There are certainly indications that the Health Departments are beginning to monitor these stores in the U.S.

When a consumer selects one of our authentic Italian extra virgin olive oils, there’s no question that the producer – whose family or estate name is on the label – grew, picked, pressed, bottled, capped, labeled and shipped this authentic and great olive oil to us. And, the best news is that YOU are the person to open that bottle. It has not been opened, repacked, decanted, or relabeled prior to your enjoyment.

VeronaDeAmB

One Word: Exquisite (squisito!)

From the area of Valpolicella near to Verona, we present Oleum Oleae Tenimenti di Ambroxiis. We met Paolo in Veneto and were thrilled to be introduced to his perfect oil, an outstanding representation of the oils of Valpolicella.

This superior olive oil is a blend of the best Grignano, Leccino, Frantoio olives grown on the family farm in the territory of Verona. This is a beautiful representation of the hard to find olive oils of the region.

The exquisite oil is a yellow-gold with light tones of green. The aroma is lightly fruity as is typical of this zone of production. The taste opens sweet and progresses to a pleasantly lightly spicy finish.

Use raw as a finish to fish, vegetables, and risotto.

 

PlanetaDOP_400There’s something fun about Planeta. It may be that customers recognize the olive oil logo, and immediately smile at the good memories associated with Planeta’s top quality wines from their estate in Sicily.

Olio2go has visited Planeta at their marvelous estate and we’ve also had the good fortune to meet with Penny in the States. We think the world of their top production of extra virgin olive oil (and wine too, but we don’t sell that!).

The availability of summer produce has driven the selection of Planeta DOP Val di Mazara as our choice for June for Olio2go’s Olive Oil of the Month Club. Salads of greens with leafy herbs, your favorite bruschetta, a platter of roasted vegetables… (we could go on for a bit here)….they are all richly enhanced by a healthy drizzle of Planeta.

Send an email to us for more information on Olio2go’s Olive Oil of the Month Club.

CastellodiBrolio_DM

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!

 

Radici_large

It’s time to celebrate our latest Olive Oil of the Month: Radici of Molise.

Radici Italiane means Italian roots and we have found Radici of Molise to be the perfect selection for those seeking their Italian heritage. More Americans emigrated from southern Italy including Abruzzo e Molise (one region until 1963) than any other region. The city of Campobasso is the largest in Molise. Perhaps Campobasso has been mentioned at your grandmother’s table?

Radici is smooth, yet robust, and it is produced in the small town of Larino, from the famous Gentile di Larino olive cultivar. It is wonderfully well balanced among the fruity, bitter, and peppery notes. Very low acidity, 0.19%.

It is recommended for salads, fresh and grilled vegetables, and for bruschetta.

To join our Olive Oil of the Month Club, just click here to send us an email.

Introducing Ruine…

Ruine_DOP_Cilento

Ruine 2013 Extra Virgin Olive Oil comes to us with the most colorful label we have seen. It is the first, striking, indication of the lively, fresh oil in the amphora bottle.

Produced in Cilento, in Campania, two hours south of the beautiful Amalfi coast. The olive trees have been growing on these hills since ancient Napoli (oldest city in Italy) near and around the town of Pisciotta. The local olive, “Pisciottana” is the primary olive of the blend, grown in the special “Ruine” soil. The olive and the land are indigenous to Parco Nationale del Cilento. Pisciotta is surrounded by 60 other typical little towns and villages (Paesi) each with their unique traditions and specialty food(s).

Ruine olive oil has received the D.O.P. Cilento mark and it is recognized by the European community.

This superior oil is emerald and brilliant coppery with aromatic notes of a fruity, medium intensity with fresh herbal notes that blend well with a deep but very elegant feeling on the palate, along with the spiciness and peppery notes typical of the Italian land and of these Mediterranean latitudes.

Local cuisine includes foods that are just perfect with the local oil, as you would expect. Local vegetables, meats, cheeses, and wine fill the tables, along with, figs, and prickly pears, which all add to fabulous and delicious treats.

Varieties: Pisciottana (primary 75%), Ogliarola, Frantoiana & Rotondella.
Total acidity: 0.29% expressed in oleic acid
Total polyphenols: 566 mg/kg
To join our Olive Oil of the Month Club, just click here to send us an email.