For those who are coming to Tuscany in the autumn, often think about the grape harvest, a crucial and exiting moment to experience in this region of Italy. But many people don’t know that from the middle of October to the end of November (and in some cases even longer) it is time for the olive harvest to produce the famous “Olio d’Oliva Extra Vergine” (Extra Virgin Olive Oil). So why not visit a “Frantoio” (Company or farmhouse for the production of Olive Oil) and discover the intense fragrances of the new and fresh produced Olive Oil?
The forecast for the olive harvest in Tuscany for 2015
Of course, it is still a little bit early to give an exact forecast of the olive harvest for 2015, but considering the disastrous production of olive oil in 2014, caused by the bad weather conditions and by the proliferation of the olive fruit fly, the production in 2015 should be better. The hot and dry summer temperatures should have reduced the presence of the olive fruit fly and its reproduction. Many companies are continuously controlling the presence of this fly, but at the moment it seems that the situation is definitely better than last year.
The production of Extra Virgin Olive Oil
The best way to understand the production of the Extra Virgin Olive Oil is by visiting an Olive Oil production company, the so-called “Frantoio”, as I propose in a tour in the territory of Montalcino.
Moreover, while you enter a “Frantoio” you will find many machinery and steel silos that look alike those you can find in wineries and for this reason it is interesting to understand better the differences and to visit these two types of production companies of these two excellent products of Italy: wine and Olive Oil.
For those who do not have the possibility to be in Tuscany or to visit a Frantoio, I write you a short description in the following part:
The Extra Virgin Olive Oil is produced exclusively by processes of mechanic extraction.
In fact, an Olive Oil can be defined only as “Virgin”, if there have been used only mechanical methods for its production. Of course, you can find many other oils, obtained by physical or chemical methods of extraction, but those are of different typologies and different from the Virgin Olive Oil.
Moreover, the definition “Extra Virgin” indicates the percentage of acidity, that means that the acidity has to be less than 0,8%. In this case a lower acidity stays for high quality and perfect degree of maturation. For that reason, as long as you will choose an Extra Virgin Olive Oil you will choose a product of first quality.
During the visit of an Olive Oil production company you should have the possibility to visit all the parts of the 5 phases of production:
– The department of arrival and selection of the olives;
– The milling;
– The machineries for the extraction of the oil;
– The machineries for the separation between water and oil;
– The department for storage, clarification and bottling of the olive oil.
During the visit, you will often listen to a very important recommendation: After buying an Extra Virgin Olive Oil, you have to remember that it degrades easily. For this reason, it is very important to conserve the Olive Oil in a dark and cool place. Of course, a glass bottle is well recommended, as long as it is made of dark glass. For this reason high quality Extra Virgin Olive Oil are bottled in dark glass bottles, not in transparent bottles as you can find in some supermarkets.
Organizing a visit of a Frantoio or tasting events of new Olive Oil
You can visit a Frantoio in different Extra Virgin Olive Oil production zones of Tuscany. If the company is small or family owned, it is always better to contact them before, because the whole family can be involved in the olive harvest and they need time to prepare your visit.
If you would like to go on a tour as described above, I also propose a tour in the territory of Montalcino where you can visit an Olive Oil production company and during which you will have the possibility to taste several selected olive oils. This tour is also available for reservations in October- November.
Moreover, in this period many villages organize local events for the tasting of the “New Olive Oil”, where you can participate in the degustation of the freshly extracted Olive Oils. Here are some examples:
- In November in Sembroniano (on the Mount Amiata), there will be organized a local event to taste the new olive oil;
- In November in Calenzano, near Florence, you can participate in the exhibition “Mostra Mercato dell’Olio d’Oliva Extra Vergine”;
- In November in Montisi, beautiful village of the “Crete senesi”, you can participate in the “Festa dell’Olio”;
- At the beginning of December in San Quirico d’Orcia, another wonderful village of the “Crete senesi”, you can taste an olive oil having been extracted by a stone mill – a real tasty experience.
And the Tuscany offers many other local events, follow my social network accounts for more information …
During these events or during the visit of a Frantoio, I recommend you to participate in the tasting of several olive oils. You will extant your knowledge about the different fragrances and characteristics of the olive oil. And at the end, I am sure that the participation in the tasting will not just give you some information about the health benefits of olive oil, but it will also have a great influence of your future olive oil selection at home. In fact, you will look forward to share this experience with friends or parents and to organize your Olive Oil degustation at home!
At the end, I will give you a short list of my favorite Extra Virgin Olive Oils. Of course, it is not a final selection, because every year there are different degustation or new olive oils to be discovered, but for now I recommend you to taste the following olive oils.
Enjoy reading and have fun with your Extra Virgin Olive Oil degustation!
Selection of my favorite Olive Oils:
It is a blend made by three important Tuscan olive varieties: Frantoio, Leccino and Moraiolo. It is delicate and fruity with a good tasty balance between fruitiness, bitterness and spiciness. I love to pair this Olive Oil with Tuscan crostini and grilled vegetables. Unfortunately, it was not produced in 2014, but full of hope I am looking forward to the harvest 2015.
This Extra Virgin Olive Oil is a part of the Extra Virgin Olive Oil selection of the Frantoio Franci in Montenero d’Orcia. It is a monovarietal oil made from the “Olivastra Seggianese” olive trees, which you can find only in the Amiata Mountain region of southern Tuscany. I prefer this oil, because it has a light and delicate fruity character that you can recognize in the fragrances, as well as in the taste. It is harmonious and elegant, perfect to pair with light dinner dishes as salads, vegetables or toasted bread.
This Olive Oil is a traditional multivarietal Extra Virgin Olive Oil, made by Correggiolo (80%), Moraiolo, Leccino and a little bit of Olivastra. Due to this selection it is a complex and intense olive oil, which you can also combine very well with grilled meat and vegetables. The “Terre di Siena DOP” – denomination guarantees you the uniqueness of its territory of origin and so you should not miss it in your selection.
This Olive Oil is produced in the Tuscan estate of the rock singer Sting. The blend is made by three traditional Tuscan olive varieties: Frantoio, Leccino and Moraiolo. The fruity fragrances of artichokes and green tomato leaves gives it a well-balanced character and can be well paired by Tuscan vegetable soups and grilled meat. There has been only a small production during the harvest 2014, but non-less the difficulties of that year, it was a pleasant Olive Oil and you should not miss the 2015 production.
“Verum” is the organic selection of the producer “Compagnia degli Oliandoli” in Bagno a Ripoli, near Florence. It is produced using the Tuscan olive varieties Frantoio and Maurino. In the nose you can feel pleasant vegetable fragrances as artichokes and green pepper. During the tasting you will be surprised by the charming harmony between bitterness and spiciness and a persistent fluidity. It is perfect to be used in salads, fried vegetables and grilled Tuscan meat.