There are an infinite number of factors that go into making a particular Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVO) taste the way it does and provide the health benefits it does. In this series of Blogs I hope to explain some of the key things we do at IL DIVINO to make our EVO the best.
Typically, store purchased EVO is a mixture of olives harvested from all parts of the world and then processed in one location for sale. While the transport of these olives to one global location for processing certainly destroys the freshness and beneficial health properties of EVO, this is a subject for another Blog.
Olive Varieties – as you will notice on this representative label, it says nothings about the “type / variety” of olives used to make this oil. You will often find this in even higher quality extra virgin olive oils. It may (unlikely) say “produced from “olives” grown in one particular country” but rarely will the label say anything about the type / variety of olives used to produce it.
Throughout the world there are numerous varieties of olives / trees used to produce EVO. Some of these include: Arbequina, Arbosana and Koroneiki in the USA; Picual and Hojiblanca in Spain; and Kalamata in Greece.
Having fallen in love with Italian Extra Virgin Olive Oil during our 8 years living in Tuscany, when we decided to produce our own IL DIVINO Extra Virgin Olive Oil (www.ildivinooliveoil.com), we investigated which variety of Italian olives might be enjoyed by our customers not only for the taste but also health benefits.
In Tuscany, there are four primary olives used for making EVO. These are Frantoio, Moraiolo, Pendolino, and Leccino. In Italy, the primary olive used for making EVO is Frantoio. This olive makes a great robust EVO with a considerable bitter after taste. Moraiolo is similar to Frantoio with a bitter and spiciness with flavors of fresh grass and artichokes. While the Pendolino olive tree does produce unremarkable olive oils, it is used primarily in Tuscany as a pollinizer for the other varieties mentioned here.
This brings us to Leccino. Our IL DIVINO Extra Virgin Olive Oil is made from 100% Leccino olives. The Leccino olive produces a beautiful oil often characterized by its “sweetness”. While it clearly has the characteristic peppery aftertaste particular to high quality extra virgin olive oils, it is not a overpowering bitterness often described for Frantoio oils.
While one of the rarest olive oil producing trees in Tuscany, the first time we tasted pure Leccino EVO, we knew this was what we wanted for our IL DIVINO Extra Virgin Olive Oil. While many of the heartier EVOs from Italy may have an initial bold taste (which fades over time) prized by some Italian olive oil snobs, the Leccino oil maintains its lovely flavor throughout the year.
Here at IL DIVINO we feel so fortunate to work, year after year, with a small farm in the Valtiberina region of Tuscany, that has a small orchard of Leccino olives trees where all IL DIVINO Extra Virgin Olive Oil comes from year after year.
In Summary – while we take so many efforts to produce the finest Italian Extra Virgin Olive Oil, one thing we do is produce 100% Leccino Extra Virgin Olive Oil to make an EVO with a flavor, taste, and health profile we feel is the finest in the world.