`Blas Melgarejo Cordero and Andrés Martos Medina - Olive Oil Times

Blas Melgarejo Cordero and Andrés Martos Medina

Jan. 6, 2011
Lara Camozzo

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By Lara Camozzo
Olive Oil Times Contributor | Reporting from Washington, DC

Melgarejo — Aceites Campoliva pro­duces four dif­fer­ent extra vir­gin olive oil vari­eties: Picual, Frantoio, Arbequina and Hojiblanca, as well as a blend known as Melgarejo Composicion Delicatessen. We strive to under­stand each and every one of these vari­eties so we can adapt the pro­duc­tion process in order to get the best out of the olives. Once you really get to know a vari­ety, you can pro­duce a very com­plex olive oil. That’s what we do; we pro­duce sin­gle vari­eties of such com­plex­ity that you may think that they have been blended,” says Andres Martos Medina of Melgarejo — Aceites Campoliva.

Once you really get to know a vari­ety, you can pro­duce a very com­plex olive oil.- Andres Martos Medina

Their remark­ably well bal­anced oils,” are described as fruity, with a high inten­sity of green olives, and a slight touch of ripened fruits, hints of green apple, fresh grass, green almond shell and aro­matic herbs.”

The com­pany was estab­lished in 1995 by the sons of Mr. Francisco Melgarejo and Mrs. Juana Cordero. Along with Marino Uceda, recently retired olive oil pro­fes­sor and researcher, they have taken an aver­age prod­uct to new heights. Their oils are also an inspi­ra­tion to other pro­duc­ers, because Marino is very well known in the indus­try and has been work­ing for many years to help oth­ers make the best pos­si­ble oils,” said olive oil expert Paul Vossen.

They were recently awarded Best Extra Virgin Olive Oil in the cat­e­gory of sweet green fruity oil for 2009- 2010” by the Spanish Department of Agriculture. This award was based on the pro­fes­sional expe­ri­ence of the Melgarejo team, their pas­sion for extra vir­gin oils, the high qual­i­fi­ca­tion of all its mem­bers, and the con­stant research in order to inno­vate in every phase of the process.” Also in 2010, their Delicatessen oil received Best of Class and the Gold Medal at the LA County Fair in California. Their olive oils con­tain a very low level of acid­ity, rang­ing from 0.15% to 0.17%, and top­ping off at just 0.19%.

What sets Melgarejo — Aceites apart is the pas­sion we all feel about olive oil and the expe­ri­ence and com­mit­ment that this fam­ily has had over the cen­turies. We take care of our olive grove year round in order to get the best fruit that we pos­si­bly can. That is a very impor­tant step. Then we har­vest our olive trees at the very moment when the polyphe­nol curve is at its peak (each year it´s dif­fer­ent). We take great care dur­ing the trans­port and with the clean­ing of our facil­i­ties. In the end, we try to set the pro­duc­tion para­me­ters accord­ing to the fruit itself (ripeness, vari­ety and so on…).”

In the 18th cen­tury the olive mill con­sisted of a sin­gle stone mill and beam press, which was run by Francisco Melgarejo’s great grand­fa­ther. Today the mill includes the most mod­ern machin­ery, facil­i­ties, and tech­nolo­gies for cre­at­ing extra vir­gin olive oil and its pack­ag­ing,” which is pro­duced in the attached
pack­ag­ing plant in order to ensure that oil is con­served and bot­tled in excel­lent con­di­tions.”

The Melgarejo olive mill is located in Pegalajar, a province town of Jaen. Our olive grove is sit­u­ated in the Andalusian moun­tain range sur­rounded by pine trees, wal­nut trees, and holm oak trees. It is very dif­fi­cult to har­vest here, so we do this by hand where we can not pick the olives with machin­ery. This is much more expen­sive than har­vest­ing in the low land, how­ever this olive grove has belonged to our fam­ily for gen­er­a­tions — we have to do our best to pre­serve it. The prices of our olive oils are based on its qual­ity and pro­duc­tion costs. When con­sumers see a bot­tle of Melgarejo olive oil, it means this is a real extra vir­gin olive oil, because we put pas­sion, knowl­edge, and his­tory in every oil we pro­duce. They will taste a piece of our her­itage in every drop. We think that this is the way our ances­tors would like it to be.”

Over the years, we have faced two kinds of chal­lenges: The vari­ety chal­lenge
and the social chal­lenge. The vari­ety chal­lenge is based on the bad rep­u­ta­tion of
the Picual vari­ety — Picual is con­sid­ered the ugly duck­ling of oils — books tell you it has a very good chem­i­cal struc­ture, but medium qual­ity organolep­tic char­ac­ter­is­tics, which is not true. The Picual vari­ety is very com­plex when you know how to pro­duce it. It can be very sweet with hints of tomato, banana, spices, and mint, and it’s not bit­ter nor even very pun­gent,” explains Mr. Medina. The Melgarejo fam­ily cre­ated the Aromas de Picual project in order to show the world what this olive vari­ety is capa­ble of.

Another chal­lenge we face is our soci­ety. Around here, nobody har­vests the olive trees before December. Typically they har­vest when the olives are very ripe, how­ever the qual­ity of the oils you get from them may not be good. Many peo­ple crit­i­cized our meth­ods and even told us that we were crazy, because the yield was very low and the oils would taste awful. Yet we kept doing what we thought was right, and here we are, The best olive oil in Spain.’”
.

Each year, Olive Oil Times com­mends the achieve­ments of olive oil pro­duc­ers who make an out­stand­ing con­tri­bu­tion to the indus­try. These indi­vid­u­als or
com­pa­nies set the stan­dards of excel­lence for the rest of the indus­try to fol­low and
influ­ence the qual­ity, vari­ety, value, and edu­ca­tional infor­ma­tion avail­able to olive
oil con­sumers.

Often these lead­ers have over­come for­mi­da­ble and endur­ing chal­lenges, or through inno­va­tion found new ways to advance olive oil qual­ity in a prod­uct range, in their com­mu­nity or through­out the world.

With an eye to the past we rec­og­nize the olive oil maker who has man­aged to pre­serve or pro­mul­gate olive oil’s cul­tural legacy. Looking to the future, we’re hon­or­ing the pro­ducer who works to ensure the place of olive oil in our lives and those of gen­er­a­tions to come.

The Olive Oil Times Producer of the Year award may be bestowed upon an entire orga­ni­za­tion or a par­tic­u­lar olive oil maker. This rec­og­nizes the fact that pro­duc­ing olive oil can be both a col­lab­o­ra­tive endeavor involv­ing many hands and an indi­vid­ual expres­sion of per­sonal cre­ativ­ity.

Read about the other win­ners of the 2010 Olive Oil Times Producer of the Year award.

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