`Early Harvest Release Brings Fresh Oils to New York

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Early Harvest Release Brings Fresh Oils to New York

Dec. 20, 2013
Michael Goodwin

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Remy Reboul presents Château d’Estoublon early har­vest olive oils at an event in New York hosted by De Medici Imports

New York’s first early har­vest release,” hosted by De Medici Imports at the head­quar­ters for the National Asso­ci­a­tion for the Spe­cialty Food Trade, wel­comed olive oil pro­duc­ers, experts, chefs, and writ­ers to taste new oils from the Mediterranean’s first har­vest this sea­son.

Food jour­nal­ist and tele­vi­sion per­son­al­ity David Rosen­garten opened the event’s panel dis­cus­sion by defin­ing the dense state­ment of early har­vest release” and the tra­di­tion of using under­ripe olives, pro­duc­ing a green, won­der­fully fruity, pep­pery oil.”

The event fea­tured extra vir­gin olive oils from four pro­duc­ers. Dur­ing the open­ing sem­i­nar, each pro­ducer had the oppor­tu­nity to speak about ter­roir, pro­duc­tion meth­ods and the qual­i­ties that make his or her oil unique. Rosen­garten observed that the pro­duc­ers, pri­mar­ily estate oper­a­tions, were boldly com­mer­cial­iz­ing early releases” to give con­sumers a taste of the fresh­est oils avail­able. All four pro­duc­ers had oil sam­ples flown in for the event.

The fifty or so atten­dees first heard from Ger­ard Veá, of VEÁ Olive Oil, in Lérida, Spain. In con­ver­sa­tion with Emilio Mignucci, an owner of Philadel­phia area spe­cialty food mer­chants, Di Bruno Bros., Veá explained the care­ful tem­per­a­ture con­trol involved in pre­serv­ing the fla­vor of early release oils. He also spoke to the role of weather in sub­tleties of fla­vor and oil qual­ity with each new har­vest. VEÁ’s early har­vest extra vir­gin olive oil is 100 per­cent Arbe­quina, a cel­e­brated Cata­lan vari­ety.

Olive oil expert and edu­ca­tor Nicholas Cole­man then spoke with Emanuela Stuc­chi Prinetti, from Badia a Coltibuono, a Tus­can pro­ducer of great his­tory and tra­di­tion. Dis­cussing the evolv­ing role of tech­nol­ogy in olive cul­ti­va­tion, Prinetti described the chal­lenges and rewards of pro­duc­ing olive oil and wine on the same estate. Illus­trat­ing the role of alti­tude on cul­ti­va­tion, Pinetti shared the vision of her father, whose inno­va­tion would even­tu­ally lead to the com­pletely organic pro­duc­tion at Badia a Coltibuono. The health and integrity of the olives is of the utmost impor­tance,” she remarked. Only 8,000 bot­tles of Albereto Organic Extra Vir­gin Olive Oil, the estate’s early release, are avail­able each year.

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Vic Rallo, host of the tele­vi­sion series Eat! Drink! Italy!” with Emanuela Stuc­chi Prinetti from the Badia a Coltibuono estate

The sem­i­nar also saw Remy Reboul, pro­ducer of the Provençal Château d’Estoublon, in con­ver­sa­tion with Cur­tis Cord, pub­lisher of Olive Oil Times and founder of the New York Inter­na­tional Olive Oil Com­pe­ti­tion. Cord recalled tast­ing Chateau d’Estoublon’s Grossane mono­va­ri­etal in a small shop in St. Tropez 20 years ago that was his first expe­ri­ence with a great olive oil.” Though the estate’s pro­duc­tion tech­nol­ogy has evolved since then, the care­ful cul­ti­va­tion has not. The estate has only 6,700 trees, and their olives are har­vested by hand for opti­mal ripeness. Though he pro­duces five mono­va­ri­etal oils, Reboul’s early har­vest, AOP Val­lée des Baux de Provence is a blend that includes all five French olives.

Xan­dra Falco, in con­ver­sa­tion with Jef­frey Shaw of the Trade Com­mis­sion of Spain in New York, spoke about Mar­ques de Griñon in Toledo — another pro­ducer with hun­dreds of years of his­tory. Whereas the estate’s olives were once crushed” at the mill, mod­ern tech­nol­ogy more del­i­cately slices” the olives, Falco explained. Falco’s pro­duc­tion line is able to cre­ate and bot­tle olive oil in just 30 min­utes, opti­miz­ing fresh­ness, fla­vor and health­ful­ness. Her early har­vest oil, Oleum Artis Extra Vir­gin, com­bines Arbe­quina and Picual vari­etals.

The tast­ing, which fol­lowed the speak­ers, allowed pro­duc­ers to share the robust fla­vors of their early har­vests with sem­i­nar atten­dees. A cel­e­bra­tion of small, high-qual­ity olive oil mak­ers, the event aimed to give much-needed pos­i­tive press to olive oil imports. Steve Kauf­man, Exec­u­tive vice pres­i­dent of De Medici, and one of the orga­niz­ers of the event, stated that the event was an oppor­tu­nity to demon­strate that bet­ter olive oils come from early har­vest­ing and show off great oils.”

All four pro­duc­ers explained that embrac­ing tech­nol­ogy was crit­i­cal to the preser­va­tion of their his­toric estates. As Reboul stated, we have to stick to strict rules to pro­duce the high­est qual­ity olive oil.” This dis­play of Euro­pean com­mit­ment to small pro­duc­tion and qual­ity was wel­comed by Amer­i­can palates. As Rosen­garten noted, with an increase in Amer­i­can con­sumer knowl­edge of olive oil, any oppor­tu­nity to grow Amer­i­can trust in extra vir­gin olive oil” is a great one.


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