I’ve decided to write about the Italian cultivars or varieties of olives used in Italy to make olive oil. As I said a few posts ago, Avvinare is expanding its range of subjects from writing only about wines to more articles on food, travel and art.
I recently found out there are some 350 olive cultivars and that the terroir for making olive oil is just as important as it is for making wine. It seemed to me to be an area worth exploring, especially as one tries to navigate the variety of olive oils coming out of Italy, not to mention from the rest of the world.
I wrote a piece some time ago on Calabriadorata for Alta Cucina, a brand from Calabria made with the Carolea olive, indigenous to Calabria.
“Our products are 300 years old. These plants have been making olive oil in a traditional way for 300 years. I am now also making a small portion of organic oil. The olive trees are all planted at about 150 meters from the sea. They are carolea olive trees with an average age of 200 years each. Our olives grow at about 500 meters above sea level in the hills where both the warmth of the summer and the cold of the winter are generally more mild,” Massimiliano Tocci de Luca di Lizzano, said. “Our plants are beautiful and old.”
All of the olives that go into the Calabriadorata olive oils are picked with mechanical harvesters. The harvesters shake the trees until the olives fall into nets where they are rapidly picked up and taken to be pressed. “Olives shouldn’t touch the ground because they become more acidic,” Massimiliano noted.
In the past, Massimiliano’s family had given their olives to other firms. Massimiliano decided to reclaim his lands and make olive oil on his own.”At first it was a real sacrifice and change from my life in London and in Rome. Now I am thrilled. I love working in the country. I wouldn’t change that for the world.”
Massimiliano and his wife Cristina moved back to Calabria a few years ago. The family property is located about 15 kilometers from Lamezia Terme. “Our lands border the beach and rise up some 900 meters.”
Calabriadorata olive oils reflect the land and are spicy and fruity. “I always suggest using are olive oils on salads and such. I don’t think it should be cooked because it is a waste of money.
Looking towards the future, Massimiliano noted that he’d like to see Calabradorata in the best restaurants in New York. “We will never have a large quantity of olive oil so I want it to be in very specialized stores and restaurants, places that I would go to,” he noted.
‘Many things have changes in Calabria but not everything. I try to change the things that I can and focus on the possible. Tourism and some business activities are finally picking up but we have a long way to go. Few people speak English and this can be a real handicap. Another issue is that the state is just not helping us as it should. That said, Calabria has enormous potential and we’re glad to be a part of it,” he added.
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