Olive Oil Sommelier Unites Quality Producers in Tuscany

Entimio founder, Daniel Santini, is bringing together a group of Chianti's top olive oil producers under a single brand.

Entimio founder Daniel Santini (Photo by Alessandro Moggi)
May. 8, 2020
By Ylenia Granitto
Entimio founder Daniel Santini (Photo by Alessandro Moggi)

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What I had in mind was a lifestyle brand focused on peo­ple, ter­ri­tory and excel­lence,” Daniel Santini, the founder of Entimio, told Olive Oil Times. We have done even bet­ter, cre­at­ing an ecosys­tem of aware con­sumers and arti­sanal pro­duc­ers linked in a trust­ful and respect­ful rela­tion­ship.”

Santini was born and raised in Tuscany, but cur­rently resides in the United States. He spent almost 20 years work­ing in finance, before begin­ning a sec­ond career in olive oil.

Each of our bot­tles must be a mem­o­rable expe­ri­ence.- Daniel Santini, founder of Entimio

I was a care­ful con­sumer who worked in the cor­po­rate world,” he said. As my pas­sion for qual­ity food increased, I felt a nat­ural wish to learn more about extra vir­gin olive oil, and I under­stood that there was still room for prod­ucts of excel­lence.”

Eager to learn more about the world of olive oil, he attended tast­ing courses in Italy and the U.S., where he com­pleted the Olive Oil Sommelier Program orga­nized by the Olive Oil Times Education Lab and the International Culinary Center. In 2017, his hard work and pas­sion paid off, cul­mi­nat­ing in the cre­ation of a new com­pany.

See Also: Producer Profiles

For the launch of my project, I tasted and selected some of the best pro­duc­tions in Chianti and invited the farm­ers to join the Entimio brand,” he said.

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Every year since a small group of high-qual­ity Italian pro­duc­ers have taken part in this ambi­tious project and received mul­ti­ple awards at the NYIOOC World Olive Oil Competition.

Among these is the Losi fam­ily, whose work and story lie behind the qual­ity of the Gold-award win­ning Entimio Intenso Chianti Classico PDO.

We are the fifth gen­er­a­tion of pro­duc­ers, and our aim is to make excel­lent prod­ucts strongly linked to our ter­ri­tory,” Riccardo Losi, who works with his sis­ter, father and uncle to man­age the farm and mar­ket their olive oil, said.

The first taste of the Losis’ extra vir­gin olive oil marked the begin­ning of a fruit­ful part­ner­ship with Santini.

When I sipped it, I knew I had found a unique gem to trea­sure and share with the world,” he said.

In Castelnuovo Berardenga, north of Siena, the Losi Querciavalle estate is nes­tled on the slopes of the Pontignano Charterhouse. In 1700, monks planted an ancient type of Correggiolo olive tree on these same slopes, which has been pre­served to this day.

Our fam­ily put down roots here 150 years ago, in 1870, and part of the grove dates back to this time, when our ances­tors repro­duced the plants of the Charterhouse by cut­ting,” Pietro Losi, Riccardo’s father, explained. In the 1950s, our grand­fa­ther, Tranquillo, used the same method, obtain­ing more clones of those olive trees, and now we keep doing that with each new plant.”

On the hills of Chianti at an alti­tude of between 280 and 350 meters (918 and 1,148 feet), the old Correggiolo plants are flanked by Frantoio, Leccino, Moraiolo and other uniden­ti­fied ancient vari­eties, reach­ing a total 3,000 olive trees.

The estate, which includes large wooded areas and sev­eral hectares of vine­yards, enjoys plenty of expo­sure to the sun and rich cal­care­ous top­soil. Below, the val­ley floor soil is char­ac­ter­ized by the pres­ence of tuffa­ceous rocks.

The Losi family’s Querciavalle estate in Tuscany’s famed Chianti region.

The old­est parts of our groves are arranged accord­ing to an exten­sive plant­ing lay­out,” Losi said, spec­i­fy­ing that many plants are located at a dis­tance of 10 meters (32.8 feet) from one another. In the past, the space between the rows was used to grow crops such as wheat and bar­ley, now we prac­tice mixed crop­ping with vines.”

Native grape vari­eties such as Canaiolo, Malvasia, black Malvasia, Trebbiano, Colorina and some Merlot are inter­spersed among the olive trees, some of which are kept wild and help main­tain cool­ness and humid­ity in the bian­nu­ally-ploughed soil.

Polyculture requires a lot of atten­tion dur­ing plant health care oper­a­tions since we apply a zero-residue method,” Riccardo Losi said. Respect for the envi­ron­ment is fun­da­men­tal, not only to obtain good prod­ucts but also to encour­age the pres­ence of ben­e­fi­cial insects in the orchard.”

On the other hand, thanks to the excel­lent posi­tion, the prob­lem of pests such as the olive fruit fly is almost irrel­e­vant,” he added.

After major freezes in 1956, 1985 and 1995 many of the family’s olive trees under­went dras­tic prun­ing, per­formed by Riccardo’s grand­fa­ther, in order to repair the frost dam­age.

He taught me all about his work and these plants, which I am pas­sion­ate about,” Losi said. That pas­sion, handed down from gen­er­a­tion to gen­er­a­tion, also touched the heart of my young daugh­ter, who already loves the pun­gency and bit­ter­ness of our extra vir­gin olive oil.”

Notwithstanding the strong ties with tra­di­tion, the Losi fam­ily has always fol­lowed the evo­lu­tion of pro­duc­tion tech­niques and meth­ods.

We moved from using a tra­di­tional mill to the con­tin­u­ous cycle mill in the mid-90s,” Paolo Losi, Riccardo’s uncle, said. We con­stantly improve our pro­duc­tion process, and we cur­rently part­ner with a two-phase mill, equipped with the lat­est tech­nol­ogy, to get best out of our fruits.”

In order to pre­serve the organolep­tic and chem­i­cal prop­er­ties of the prod­ucts obtained by the farm­ers, Entimio laid down high safety and con­ser­va­tion stan­dards.

Each of our bot­tles must be a mem­o­rable expe­ri­ence,” Santini said, adding that the adop­tion of an argon blan­ket­ing sys­tem pre­serves the fea­tures of Entimio’s extra vir­gin olive oil in the bot­tle.

We strive to achieve the best qual­ity at the point of con­sump­tion, and we are will­ing to sac­ri­fice profit to sat­isfy our cus­tomers,” he said. They know the dif­fer­ence that an authen­tic pre­mium prod­uct can make in their life in terms of taste and health ben­e­fits.”

Farmers like Losi sup­port Entimio in being an uncom­pro­mis­ing source of authen­tic extra vir­gin olive oil,” Santini con­cluded, while a black rooster, the sym­bol of the Chianti Classico PDO, vig­or­ously crowed from the barn­yard adja­cent to the olive grove.


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