EU Grants PDO Status to Olive Oils of Provence

Provençal olive oil represents distinctive organoleptic characteristics, unique chemistry and strong historical ties to the land.

Mar. 30, 2020
By Paolo DeAndreis

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Provence olive oil, huile d’o­live de Provence, has been given Pro­tected Des­ig­na­tion of Ori­gin (PDO) sta­tus by the Euro­pean Union.

(The olives) thrive in the spe­cial cli­matic con­di­tions pro­vided by the strong west­ern winds, plen­ti­ful rain and unique stony soil.- Nazareno Rossi, French food importer

The PDO applies to extra vir­gin olive oil obtained exclu­sively by mechan­i­cal means and com­prised of at least 20 per­cent Aglan­dau, Bouteil­lan, Cayon or Salo­nenque cul­ti­vars, accord­ing to the French National Insti­tute of Ori­gin and Qual­ity (INAO).

The area of pro­duc­tion for Provence olive oil is just 2,014 acres and stretches along the south­ern French coast, near Mar­seille. In this small geo­graph­i­cal indi­ca­tor, 183 cer­ti­fied grow­ers in the region pro­duce approx­i­mately 240,000 liters of PDO Provence olive oil annu­ally at just 59 mills.

See more: Pro­tected Des­ig­na­tions of Ori­gin

In that area, located in the south of France, there are almost two mil­lion olive trees,” Nazareno Rossi, a small importer of typ­i­cal French food and wine in cen­tral Italy, told Olive Oil Times. They thrive in the spe­cial cli­matic con­di­tions pro­vided by the strong west­ern winds, plen­ti­ful rain and unique stony soil.”

Those con­di­tions are quite dif­fer­ent from what we find else­where in Europe, be it in the olive groves of Tus­cany or Spain,” he added. That is prob­a­bly why they believe that the olive oil from this spe­cific region has spe­cial char­ac­ter­is­tics.”


INAO iden­ti­fied two dif­fer­ent olive oils that can be pro­duced under the new PDO.

The first one is an extra vir­gin olive oil that is extracted from olives processed by the mills within four days of har­vest­ing. The final prod­uct is char­ac­ter­ized by a mildly spicy and slightly bit­ter fla­vor, with a taste of fresh grass and arti­choke.

The sec­ond accepted PDO Provence olive oil comes from recently ripened olives, with almost no bit­ter nor spicy fla­vors, but plenty of black olives aroma, can­died fruit and under­growth.

Along with its dis­tinc­tive organolep­tic qual­i­ties, the chem­i­cal prop­er­ties of Provence olive oil also help to define it.

It is renowned for its con­tri­bu­tion in four essen­tial fatty acids: palmi­toleic acid, mar­garoleic acid, vaccenic acid, linoleic acid,” INAO said in a state­ment.

Local experts also point out that Provence olive oil is a his­toric prod­uct and part of the region’s olive oil cul­ture. Accord­ing to INAO, olive oil has been pro­duced by the inhab­i­tants of the region for more than 2,000 years. Ruins of ancient mills for olive press­ing date back to the sixth cen­tury BCE.

The eagerly-awaited announce­ment comes 13 years after the French gov­ern­ment named a larger region on the south­ern French coast an Appel­la­tion of Con­trolled Ori­gin (AOC) for Provence olive oil.

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