Most people are familiar with the $15.00 bottle of wine, and while no one pretends it is the best, it can be good for the price.The same holds true for olive oils. There are a lot of decent olive oils for under $20 that are perfectly good for sautéing as well as for use in marinades and vinaigrettes. These oils are less expensive because they are mass-produced using a variety of different olives and using modern technology for mass-efficiency. And while they can be perfectly fine for day to day use, these oils do not have the flavours and complexity of top estate bottled oils.
What makes top-notch estate oil?
Handpicking - when the olives are picked by hand the endure far less bruising; and Cold pressing – which means the olives are pressed in a stone mill without the use of heat or chemicals – obviously produce a purer, and therefore far superior, product. Olives also begin to deteriorate the moment they are picked so the traditional artisan methods mandate that the olives be pressed within just a few hours of picking. These are key factors in producing a great olive oil.
When would you use these oils?
- Drizzled on simple pasta dishes
- Dipping great crusty bread in it
- Use in place of butter on sautéed, steamed or grilled vegetables
- Tossed in salad greens with a touch of good vinegar, sea salt and pepper
- Drizzle over grilled fish or meat.
A lot of people ask me what my favourite olive oil is and I can’t just recommend one as I have had the good fortune to indulge in so many good ones, but over the years I have developed a passion (yes, PASSION!) for a few. Here are some of my personal top picks:
- Laudemio – Antinorio: This smashing oil features a full blast of artichoke-like fruit,along with a delightful peppery aftertaste. The palate is full and round and loaded with flavour.
- Tenuta Del Numerouno: This unfiltered oil comes from the west coast of Tuscany and has one of the lowest acidity levels ever registered (0.20) at the University of Verona. Features a distinctive fruity well rounded flavour.
- Badia a Coltibuono: Widely available in specialty stores. Deep green in colour, this oil has intense fruity cucumber flavours. The slightly bitter peppery finish make it a favorite finishing oil .
- Lerida: This oil hails from the northern region of Catalonia (known for it’s standout quality oils) in Spain which produces more olive oil than any other country in the world. A blend from the tiny Arbequina and the Farga-Aragon olives gives this oil a buttery and slightly fat feeling in the mouth with a light peppery finish.
- Les Oliviers Du Mas Blanc: A small estate in Provence, France produces this green gold oil which features a light, buttery flavour with a slight herbal finish. This oil is unfiltered and limited in production at only 2,500 bottles per year. A special find indeed!