Our 350 trees produce a small yield of high quality extra-virgin olive oil which has the strong, spicy flavour unique to Tuscan oil.
Our olives are farmed by us, using only organic farming methods. Although the busiest time of year is the raccolta, or harvest, tending an olive grove is a year-round responsibility, as the trees need to be pruned and fed, and the grass kept trimmed.
Our olives are hand-picked by us and Michele’s family using traditional methods such as brucatura (combing), which don’t damage the fruit or trees. The olives are picked directly from the tree – we do not collect ground fruit, which may already have started to ferment.
Tuscany is the northernmost region in Italy for olive oil production, and the climate means that the picking season is short and early (usually late October – December), as olives must be harvested before the first frost. Picking olives early reduces the oil yield – a Tuscan olive produces a tiny fraction of the oil that ripe Southern Italian, Spanish and Greek olives do – but it also gives Tuscan oil its concentrated and superior flavour.
Our olives are cold-pressed at local frantoii (presses). We witness the pressing of all our olives (even when they’re pressed in the middle of the night) to ensure that the final oil is unadulterated and not mixed with inferior oils.
Pressing the olives soon after picking (24 hours) helps ensure that our oil is extra-virgin. A common misconception is that extra-virgin means ‘first-pressed’ – it is actually a measure of acidity. To be classified as extra-virgin, the oil must have acidity under 0.8% (under 0.6% to be classified as Toscano IGP). Harvesting the olives before they are fully ripe and pressing them before they begin to ferment keeps acidity levels low.
Taste and Quality
Tuscan extra-virgin olive oil has a unique taste which is peppery and fruity. Its robust flavour makes it particularly suitable for drizzling on bread, salads and soups.
The special flavour of our Tuscan EVOO is a result of the variety of olives grown, the non-mechanised cultivation methods and early harvesting time, all of which are determined by Tuscany’s particular climate and terrain. Tuscan oil is typically lower in acidity, richer in anti-oxidants and stronger in flavour than oil produced in the warmer regions of Italy, Spain or Greece.
Tuscan oil is often very green due to the use of unripe olives. However, colour is not necessarily a sign of quality and can be affected by a number of factors including the variety of olives and the chlorophyll in leaves included in the pressing. Professional olive oil tasters drink from blue glasses so they are not influenced by the colour of the oil.
Unlike wine, olive oil doesn’t improve with age. Although the oil itself doesn’t degrade quickly, the flavour of the olio nuovo is much stronger. Italians tend to use new oil for dressing salads or drizzling on pasta and bread, and older oil for cooking.
To retain the flavour of the olive oil it should be stored away from direct sunlight, ideally in a glass container. Our oil is unfiltered as we believe this enhances its flavour, but after a time sediment may settle at the bottom of the container and should be drained off.