(English) Beginning at the beginning: Just what is Extra Virgin Olive Oil?
Extra Virgin Olive Oil is truly nothing more and nothing less than the pure juice obtained from the fruit of olive trees.
But why “Extra Virgin”? In order to be classed as such, an olive oil must meet certain chemical and sensorial standards.
First of all, the oil must be produced solely by mechanical means and without the addition of any chemicals or solvents. Temperatures will be kept at less than 30ºC so as not to degrade the oil during the process of extraction. In chemical terms, it must have a “free acidity” of not more than 0.8%, which serves as an indication of quality standards maintained during production.
If the olive juice meets these conditions, it will undergo a further sensory evaluation carried out by an official tasting panel. They will study the aroma and flavour profile of the oil, and should it be found to be flawless, free from defects, and to have the necessary “positive attributes” it will be classed as Extra Virgin – the highest quality of all the olive oil classifications.
These positive attributes which make an oil “Extra Virgin” include its fruitiness: having aromas and flavours which are reminiscent of fresh, green or ripe olives, fruit and vegetables which can range from bananas, apples, almonds right through to tomatoes, artichokes and even cut grass. Extra Virgin Olive Oils will also often have attributes of bitterness and pungency, the latter creating a peppery sensation in the mouth and throat. All of these should come together harmoniously on the palate and create a well balanced, rounded flavour sensation.
Extra Virgin Olive Oils vary greatly from one to another since their quality and taste depend on many factors including the variety of olive, the terroir and local climate, on early or late harvesting of the fruit and methods of production. Neither can we forget the care and dedication of individual producers to their olive groves.
Next time you open your Extra Virgin Olive Oil, take a minute to breathe in the aromas, savour the taste and discover the world of flavours brought to you by this liquid gold.