(photo: 2010 Olio Verde extra virgin olive oil from Sicilia, I had to scramble and take a photo before I consumed it all!)
Any time I’m asked to taste a product from the southern provinces of Italy I get excited, very excited. There’s of course a sense of pride knowing a product is made from an area you know well and have a connection with; in fact, I get the same sensation when I taste anything made with care from New Jersey (e.g., tomatoes, beer, diner food, etc.).
New Jersey, of course, doesn’t have the terroir or climate of western Sicilia so the Garden State cannot produce world class extra virgin olive oil like Gianfranco Becchina of Olio Verde
does in the province of Trapani (Castelvetrano). Becchina
uses 100 percent Nocellara del Belice olives (not native to Jersey) which are harvested earlier in the season (October as opposed to November) because Gianfranco is going for a fruitier oil. The olives are also harvested by hand and not shaken by way of a machine (the claim is that fruit bruising is limited thus the fruit doesn’t begin to ripen) and grown without the use of pesticides.
The 2010 Olio Verde Extra Virgin Olive
I sampled had a bright green color and was unfiltered. The oil was fruity, nutty, and fresh tasting and there was no sense of “grease” on the palate; that is to say, Olio Verde is a very clean tasting extra virgin olive oil. At the same time, the oil is light and slightly grassy compared to some of the bigger Tuscan oils which have some desirable bitter and acidic qualities (in my view, this isn’t a very pungent oil).