`Casa de Hualdo Wins Top Prize at Extrascape

Fairs, Competitions

Casa de Hualdo Wins Top Prize at Extrascape

May. 3, 2012
By Curtis Cord

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In a large and sunny room over­look­ing the Adri­atic Sea, teams of land­scape, archi­tec­tural and envi­ron­men­tal experts from three Ital­ian uni­ver­si­ties poured over maps, spread­sheets and aer­ial images of olive farms.

Mean­while, in another room, the olive oils pro­duced by those farms were ana­lyzed by a panel of expert tasters.

For three days this week San Mar­tino was the set­ting for the first Extrascape com­pe­ti­tion — the inno­v­a­tive cre­ation of Michele Vitale and Francesco Travaglini, the pres­i­dent of Moli­sEx­tra, an asso­ci­a­tion of pro­duc­ers in this lit­tle-known region four hours by car from Rome.


Moli­sEx­tra Pres­i­dent Franceso Travaglini

Molise is among Italy’s most rural areas, unspoiled by indus­trial activ­ity and far from the tram­pled paths of tourists along the Mediter­ranean coast. Its rolling hills are etched by ancient tracks where for thou­sands of years sheep were herded from Puglia north and west to Abruzzi.

Molisans are proud of their rural tra­di­tions, and never more than this week dur­ing La Car­rese” — a race dat­ing back to 842 through the wind­ing vil­lage streets by teams of oxen and dri­vers on col­or­ful car­riages.

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At the fin­ish line fans wear­ing the red col­ors of the win­ning Gio­van­otti” team erupted with screams of tri­umph, while many of the vil­lagers in blue and green col­ors openly sobbed and con­soled one another.

The oxen seemed near death as they crossed the line gasp­ing, their mouths opened wider than seemed pos­si­ble. Yet ten min­utes later they appeared no worse for the wear and a local man said the oxen work like hell for one day a year and spend the other 364 in a five-star hotel.”


La Car­rese

Soon the reds, greens and blues came together like pix­els on the piazza with song and cel­e­bra­tions that lasted into the night and early morn­ing.

The tiny annual olive oil pro­duc­tion in Molise — about 450,000 liters — is just 1 per­cent of Italy’s total and less than some giant mills can pump out in a sin­gle day, but pro­duc­ers in the Molise D.O.P. are striv­ing to offer the high­est qual­ity, com­plete trace­abil­ity and the unique sen­sory pro­file that can only be found in oils from these ancient, fra­grant val­leys.

The land­scape experts, who were sup­ported by an army of lap­top-wield­ing doc­tor­ate stu­dents, rated farms from five coun­tries on a com­plex set of cri­te­ria includ­ing sus­tain­abil­ity, bio­di­ver­sity, respect for the envi­ron­ment and har­mony with their sur­round­ings.

Those scores were com­bined with the results from the tast­ing panel to declare the win­ners of the first annual Extrascape com­pe­ti­tion.

Not sur­pris­ingly team lead­ers from both sides said there was a strong cor­re­la­tion between the qual­ity of a far­m’s land­scape and the oil it pro­duced.


Taste Panel Mem­bers Anto­nio G. Lauro and Gino Cel­letti

The top prize was awarded to the Span­ish pro­ducer Casa de Hualdo for a Picual and its high-den­sity Andalu­sian farm which the jury found to be man­aged with great care and highly respec­tive of its his­tory and sur­round­ings, even within its mod­ern farm­ing model.

A spe­cial award was given to the land­scape of Azienda Marina Colonna, the largest pro­ducer in Molise, for its extra­or­di­nary col­lec­tion of Ital­ian cul­ti­vars grown on the estate both for research and for the Colonna range which has intro­duced the world to Molisan olive oils.

2012 Extrascape Winners

Gran Pre­mio Extrascape 2012: Casa de Hualdo (Spain)

Spe­cial Award Extrascape 2012: Azienda Marina Colonna (Molise)

Con­ven­tional (non-organic) Farms Tra­di­tional Land­scape

Light fruity: Gas­dia (Molise)
Medium fruity: Colle D’An­gio Tamaro — Rumignana (Molise)
Intense fruity: Plan­eta DOP Val di Maz­zara (Sicily)

Con­ven­tional (non-organic) Farms Con­tem­po­rary Land­scape

Medium fruity: Castillo de Canena — Arbe­quina (Spain)
Intense fruity: Casas de Hualdo — Picual (Spain)

Organic Tra­di­tional Land­scape

Medium fruity: Mani-Bläuel (Greece)
Intense fruity: Le due Benedette Per­agineto (Apu­lia)

Organic Con­tem­po­rary Land­scape

Light fruity: Il Molino Canino (Lazio)
Medium fruity: Oro del Desierto (Spain)
Intense fruity: Il Molino Tus­cia (Lazio)

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