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.

By Paolo DeAndreis
Mar. 30, 2020 11:14 UTC

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 Also: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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