By: Frank Mangio
It’s remarkable how olive oil has walked in the same footprint as wine in recently capturing the public’s fancy for flavor. No longer content to use the plain tasting traditional olive oil their ancestors used, like wine, it’s what’s new and different.
Olive oil boutiques are sprouting up in shopping districts with tasting events booking fast. A new genre of marketing terms has the U.S. Department of Agriculture scrambling for standards.
Extra Virgin, light with lemon, unfiltered, cold-pressed: the variety of olive oil on the shelves is confusing at best, and never been defined, until now. Now, scientific standards for “virgin” and extra-virgin” will be enforced later this year, leveling the playing field for small producers and retailers. Why the rush to olive oil? For wineries, its’ simple. This is a ready cash crop that they can sell almost as soon as they can pick their olives, crush them and bottle them, while their wine ages in barrels for a year or much more before being sold.
Nutritionists keep telling us what those in Mediterranean countries have known for centuries; olive oil is the backbone of a rustic, farm-to-table diet that will keep your weight down and put years on to your life. Sprinkled in salads, added to pastas, a dip for home-made bread, this tasty and nutritious liquid gold, is medicinal, magical and dependable.
It can last at least a year on the shelf and will not go rancid.
Up in Temecula, Villa Calabro Winery and Olive Oil Company in Old Town Temecula with Mike Calabro, a wine and olive oil maker, does olive oil tasting with Extra Virgin Olive Oil and flavor infused accents such as Garlic, Scallion, Rosemary, Basil and Oregano. It is one of only two locations in Southern California that make their own olive oil. Call for hours at 951-695-4525.
Baker and Olive is a more urban operation in Encinitas, and now in Carmel Valley. They specialize in freshly pressed Extra Virgin olive oil and nicely aged balsamic vinegars. Fresh home made breads are also sold. For more on Baker and Olive, call 760-944-7840.
At harvest, olive picking is by hand with a wide net at the base of the tree to catch them. Baskets (in Italy they’re called cassettas) should make about 3 liters of Olive oil. Extra Virgin olive oil is considered the finest and means there has been no chemical treatment to enhance and refine the product. It also has nearly no acidity , thus a vastly superior taste.
Frank Mangio is a renowned wine connoisseur certified by Wine Spectator. He is one of the leading wine commentators on the web. He is a Syndicated Columnist, Lecturer, Hosts of Special Events and serves on San Diego State University’s Wine Advisory Board.