About Italian Olive Oil
Italian olive oil is world-renowned and for a good reason. There are over 650 cultivars (cultivated varietals) of olives native to Italy. This makes the boot shaped country one of the most biodiverse places in the world when it comes to the olive tree. This is especially fascinating because it's not a very large country.
Researchers believe the origin of the olive tree lies in Syria and Palestine and the Greeks brought the fruit tree to Italy by boat many millennia ago. The Greeks called the territory they occupied in the southern part of the country Magna Grecia, which translates to Great Greece. The zone was broken into several different regions and today we call them Puglia, Calabria, and Sicily. The olive fruit continues to grow across almost all 20 regions.
Most Italian olive oil is produced in the southern regions of Puglia, Calabria, Sicily, and Campania. Popular cultivars include Coratina, Carolea, Nocellara del Belice, and Biancolilla. Well-known northern cultivars include Frantoio, Leccino, and Taggiasca.
Each cultivar has a distinct flavor profile. However, many different factors can influence the taste of an Italian olive oil such as location, climate, microclimate, altitude, and time of harvest. All of these things contribute to the terroir of the final product. Also, terroir is a commonly used word in the world of wine, but can and should be used in other industries.
There is a type of oil for every type of food. And often a cultivar that grows outside of its native region can take on particularly interesting characteristics. This is why it's so important to approach the pairing process with an open mind.
It's very traditional for families in Italy, especially in the south, to own an olive grove, also known as campagna (countryside), where they grow fruit for their own personal use. They may cure and jar fruit from the early harvest for eating and later pick them to produce genuine Italian olive oil for their family.
At EXAU we exclusively produce high quality Italian olive oil from fruit grown in beautiful Calabria, southern Italy where the trees benefit from the Mediterranean weather, and their native climate. Each fall we harvest our olives, milling them within 8 hours of picking. Our oils are extracted from the first milling of the fruit through mechanical means (without the use of chemicals) and with limited heat to ensure the highest quality product. The result is delicious real Italian olive oil in the hands of very happy customers!
Learn more here.