New Documentary Highlights Jaén and Its Picual

Spain's province of Jaén has completed "Jaén, Virgen and Extra," a documentary about olive oil that shares the culture of olive cultivation and oil production in the largest olive oil-producing region of the world.

Oct. 19, 2018
By Rosa Gonzalez-Lamas

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Culinary Zinema, the film and food sec­tion of San Sebastián’s Film Festival, served as tasty stage for the pre­mière of Jaén, Virgin & Extra,” a new doc­u­men­tary film about olive oil that wants to share the spirit and cul­ture sur­round­ing olive cul­ti­va­tion and oil pro­duc­tion in this Spanish province, the largest olive oil-pro­duc­ing region in the world.

In the doc­u­men­tary, Spanish film­maker and pro­ducer José Luis López Linares high­lights olive oil’s role in the Mediterranean diet and the land­scape of Jaén and its olive groves. The film, a vehi­cle for the sector’s national and inter­na­tional pro­mo­tion, also explains the role Picual olive vari­ety has played in Jaén’s 21st-cen­tury olive oil rev­o­lu­tion.

Jaén, Virgin & Extra” con­tin­ues the gas­tro­nomic saga ini­ti­ated by López Linares with The Mystery of Palo Cortado,” a highly praised film about Sherry Wines that inspired the film­maker to delve into the secrets of another icon of Spain’s gas­tron­omy.

The doc­u­men­tary intro­duces view­ers to the uni­verse of Jaén’s olive oils, their cul­ture, mon­u­ments, land­scapes, his­tory, bio­di­ver­sity, and sci­en­tific research through the eyes and voices of those who have con­tributed to its trans­for­ma­tion. The cast describes with pre­ci­sion and emo­tion all stages of the route of olive oil, from the tree to the table, adding value to this mil­lenary and con­tem­po­rary food.


The script pays spe­cial atten­tion to the rev­o­lu­tion dri­ven by the reap­pre­ci­a­tion of Picual as a piv­otal plat­form to bring Jaén to the zenith of olive oil pro­duc­tion, nur­tur­ing tran­scen­den­tal changes to olivi­cul­ture in Andalusia and Spain. According to Santiago Botas, from Gaulas Consulting, this trans­for­ma­tion was the result of an ear­lier olive har­vest, which helped express the sen­so­r­ial qual­i­ties in a Picual picked before to its verai­son.

Picual mono­va­ri­etals have won more awards at the NYIOOC World Olive Oil Competition than any other.

Traditionally, oils in Jaén were made of ripe Picual olives, which show organolep­tic traits that are not as good as those har­vested ear­lier. This changed 15 to 20 years ago when some pro­duc­ers began to make oils from early har­vests,” Botas noted.

Their excel­lent results stim­u­lated other pro­duc­ers and coop­er­a­tives to repli­cate this cycle, which derived in a global recog­ni­tion of the qual­ity of early Picuals from Jaén,” said the expert who assisted in the film’s pro­duc­tion and acted as a liai­son between the pro­duc­ers and many play­ers from the olive sec­tor who appeared in the doc­u­men­tary.

This qual­ity enhance­ment is just a por­tion of a col­lec­tive exer­cise that has brought other pro­fes­sion­als into the pro­mo­tional equa­tion of Jaén’s Picual. Gastronomy has been a key vehi­cle for the dis­sem­i­na­tion of the mer­its of these EVOOs and Spanish chefs have become some of their most promi­nent advo­cates.

Michelin-starred chefs Paco Roncero, Paco Morales, Oscar Velasco, Dani García and María José San Román were some of the culi­nary pro­fes­sion­als who took part in the 90-minute doc­u­men­tary that reunited almost 60 top pro­fes­sion­als from many dis­ci­plines, includ­ing food crit­ics and jour­nal­ists, arche­ol­o­gists, olive grow­ers, botanists, pro­fes­sors, agron­o­mists, som­me­liers, oil tourism guides, bou­tique man­agers and tast­ing experts.

The Diputación of Jaén along with the Caja Rural de Jaén were the two insti­tu­tions that expressed their strong com­mit­ment to the sec­tor and Jaén’s sig­na­ture prod­uct by becom­ing the film’s main spon­sors.

A win­ner of var­i­ous Goya Awards, Spain’s equiv­a­lent to the Oscars, López-Linares began this oil project in the fall of 2017, coin­cid­ing with the begin­ning of Picual’s early har­vest and the appear­ance of the first pre­mium oils.

Celebrity fla­menco singer and a native from Jaén Carmen Linares sea­soned the doc­u­men­tary with musi­cal pieces, includ­ing those from Jaén’s tra­di­tional song reper­toire.

A din­ner at the Basque Culinary Center pre­pared by chef Paco Morales (Noor, Córdoba,) using the win­ning oils of the 2018 Jaén Selección com­pe­ti­tion fol­lowed the documentary’s acclaimed pre­mière in San Sebastián.

Presentations at other inter­na­tional film fes­ti­vals are antic­i­pated, par­tic­u­larly in those with culi­nary film sec­tions. Berlin, Buenos Aires, China, Japan or Sofia are some fes­ti­vals which have expressed an inter­est for Jaén, Virgin & Extra,” whose debut in Spain is slated for next November.

Other gas­tro­nomic and cul­tural forums may also become screens for the documentary’s exhi­bi­tion.


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