Labels and guarantees
As for wines, the labels certifying authenticity of origin, the DOCG (or Denomination of Guaranteed Controlled
Origin), are extremely important, but in the case of olive oils much less precise legal
requirements make it
possible for producers sometimes to get round the
is therefore very important to understand
some basic terminology:
Extra virgin: an acid level lower than 1 degree and the absence of
chemical manipulation in the pressing
Acidity: the percentage of
oleic acid per litre.
Hand-harvested: olives are harvested from the month of October onwards,
according to region and altitude.
Some producers apply a number of distinctions to the harvesting and pressing processes in order to
different qualities of oils.
Pressing immediately after harvesting
(in order to avoid fermentation). The first pressing is
similar to the very
first production of wine, and produces the best oil.
Subsequently, to complete the extraction of the oil, passing
olives through lukewarm water helps separate the oil from the other
vegetable matter, thus
avoiding the risk of too high a temperature which
would change the taste. The best extra virgin olive oils are
those from the
first wash. Most of the olive oils produced for mass distribution contain a
mixture from two
pressings, or even contain only the second.
Preservation and protection from light:
by law, olive oil keeps for 18 months from the date of
bottling. It is
recommended that oil, like wine, be preserved at a
relatively cool temperature (10-15 degrees) and protected
from light sources
(its green colour comes from chlorophyll, which alters in contact with
IGP: Protected Geographical Indication. This is a European
trademark which, for an olive grove, is obtained
after a lengthy
bureaucratic procedure, rigorous checks, and tasting carried out by a group
of experts (a panel
test). The numbered label of this certified trademark is
stuck on the bottle neck as well as on the brand label.
Organic: in the EEC, organic crops must obey very precise regulations. Supervision
of these regulations is
entrusted to national unions (in our particular case
this is the AIAB - the Italian
Association of Organic
Farming) which inspect at one and the same time the
terrain, the adjacent districts, and the products used, in
order to allocate
the trademark guaranteeing organic status. The AIAB trade-mark and the authorisation that
has been allocated appear
on the brand label.
Trees: around the Mediterranean there exist different
varieties of olive trees. Some areas, for instance Cresta,
prefer a single
type of tree. In Tuscany the preference is for joint pressings of olives
from various species.
In our case, we have the following varieties: the "frantoio",
the "leccino", the "pendolino",
the "maurino" and the