Fattoria COLLE VERDE’s extra virgin olive oil
From the olive groves to the final product
The first organized planting of olive trees at Fattoria Colle Verde took place in the hills of Matraia in the 16th Century.
Today our olive groves comprise approximately 3,000 trees spread over 17 hectares (51 acres). The varieties of olive trees cultivated on the estate are representative of those traditionally planted in the region of Lucca: Frantoio (90%), Leccino (5%) and Moraiolo (5%).
Olive trees must be pruned every year to optimize production, improve the quality of the olives, and limit their exposure to diseases, since manufacturing top quality “extra virgin” oil requires a perfectly healthy, unblemished fruit.
In order to totally avoid the use of chemicals and pesticides, we only utilize special pheromone-based ‘eco-traps’ to control the population of dangerous insects.
The timing and method of harvesting are essential and crucial components in the production of a high quality olive oil. According to Tuscan tradition, the olive harvest takes place long before the fruit is fully ripe. Hence operations usually start in early November and proceed through mid-December.
The result is an outstanding olive oil high in flavour and rich in chlorophyll and polyphenols, ingredients that preserve the oil and prevent it from aging and oxidizing. Concerning the procedures of harvesting Fattoria COLLE VERDE strictly avoids the use of canes for beating the trees or of nets to collect fallen olives blown to the ground by the wind. Only hand picking can guarantee the perfect state required of olives before the cold pressing into oil takes place on-site in one of the view estate-owned mills in this area.
In order to produce a top quality olive oil, the transformation of olives into oil must take place within 24 hours after the harvest of the fruit. To ensure this decisive aspect at Fattoria COLLE VERDE, the pressing operation takes place on-site in one of the view estate-owned mills in this area. For best results, we are using a state-of-the-art “2-step” machine specially designed and geared towards our particular production procedures.
At Fattoria COLLE VERDE we make two types of extra virgin olive oil using different production methods. “Cold pressing”, however, occurs during both of the transformation processes.
For the “traditional” extra virgin olive oil we apply the customary 2-step method of first crushing the olives into a paste and then using a centrifuge to separate the oil from the water, which is naturally contained in all olives.
Producing the “Olio fiore” requires a lot of patience yet yields a more delicate oil called “affioramento”. Pressing and centrifuging are not necessary as we simply let the oil drip down by gravity from the crushed olive paste. At this stage, the oil is always combined with water particles so we store the mixture in specially made containers to allow the two liquids to separate naturally: olive oil is lighter than water and within a short period of time the oil floats to the top. Besides “afloat,” the Italian word “affioramento” can also be translated as “blossoming” and that is why this unique olive oil is sometimes referred to as “olio fiore”, or “the flower of the oil.”
When tasting olive oil, much of the oil’s characteristics are perceived through the sense of smell. Though most people sample olive oil on a slice of Tuscan bread eventually brushed with garlic (“bruschetta”), the following steps allow us to focus on the olive oil’s flavour and taste the way professionals do:
1) Pour a few drops of oil into a small dark-coloured glass (you can also use small “espresso” plastic cups).
2) Hold the glass in one hand (your body temperature will warm up the glass and the oil in it) and use your other hand to cover the glass while swirling the oil to release its aroma.
3) Uncover the glass and inhale deeply the escaping aroma. Think about whether the scent is mild, medium or strong. The olive oil of Fattoria COLLE VERDE is medium fruity and maybe you are able to identify the distinctive aroma of freshly cut grass, cypress leaves and artichokes.
4) Now you slurp the oil, which is done by taking a sip of oil combined with air into your mouth. Slurping is actually giving you the chance to savour every nuance of flavour. When the oil is in our mouth, you continue to evaluate the aroma retro-nasally and you are able to determine the amount of bitterness on our tongue.
5) Finally the oil’s pungency is revealed by swallowing it with relish.
Perhaps you noticed that the oil’s colour is not mentioned during sensory tasting: Contrary to the common belief that golden oil is mild and dark green oil is robust, colour is NOT an indicator of either the oil’s flavour or quality!
Matraja Extavergine Olive Oil is created by using the traditional “2-step” method. Our oil is a rich golden green and has a crisp, fresh nose that hints of artichokes, almonds, and cypress leaves. Its mild fruity flavor has notes of Mediterranean wild greens and bitter-peppery tones on the finish. It is excellent with raw vegetables, fresh mozzarella, or to dress pastas, soups, wild mesclun salads, and meats.
Writing in the Corriere della Sera in 1997, Luigi Veronelli, Italy’s most important food and wine writer, praised our Matraja brand as “the best olive oil of Italy”. Winner of the national Ercole Olivario Award in 1994, unquestionably Italy’s most prestigious prize devoted to premium olive oils, ‘Matraja’ has also been cited innumerable times in the international press, in books devoted to olive oils and in leading travel guides.
Our Affioramento Extra-virgin Olive Oil totally avoids the centrifuge step: oil is separated from water by a special floating system. This ancient process recalls the blossoming of flowers and gave this unique oil its traditional name of Olio Fiore.It has a lovely golden-yellow color and displays a balanced, harmonious fruity nose. Wonderfully delicate on the palate with distintive herbal flavors it is the ideal companion for seafood dishes.
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