Extra Virgin Territories You Might Not Know

Some lesser-known regions give life to high-quality extra virgin olive oils with unexpected characteristics.

Monica Vaccarella during harvest
May. 11, 2017
By Ylenia Granitto
Monica Vaccarella during harvest

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I am quite sure that when we hear of Trentino-Alto Adige/South Tyrol, most of us think of speck, strudel, and Muller-Thurgau. The same hap­pens with the denom­i­na­tion of Veneto Valpolicella, which recalls some good red wines. Despite this, it should sur­prise no one that some por­tions of these two regions are devoted to the cul­ti­va­tion of olive trees and the pro­duc­tion of great extra vir­gin olive oils.

I am glad when peo­ple open the bot­tle of my oil and get excited.- Monica Vaccarella

There is a part of the province of Trento which is tem­pered by the mit­i­gat­ing effects of Lake Garda and enjoys a sub-Mediterranean cli­mate with mod­er­ately cold win­ters and hot sum­mers, ideal con­di­tions for grow­ing olive trees up to an alti­tude of 300 meters (984.2 ft).

Olio Cru’s olive groves in Arco, Trento

A few miles from the north­ern shores of the lake, in the ter­ri­to­ries of Arco, Bolognano and Massone, lush olive groves give life to 7c, an olive oil pro­ducer and three-time Gold Award win­ner at the New York International Olive Oil Competition (includ­ing one Best in Class in 2016).

2,000 plants, mostly Casaliva, lie on the slopes of the hill over­look­ing the town of Arco, partly rooted on ter­races and partly flour­ish­ing on the rough hill­side,” said the head of man­u­fac­tur­ing, Massimo Azzolini. The chal­leng­ing ter­rain makes har­vest com­plex, and even though we can use mechan­i­cal facil­i­ta­tors in some plots, a large part of work is by hand,” he pointed out.

Harvest usu­ally starts in the last week of October; the liq­uid gold that comes out is light-to-medium fruity, mod­er­ately spicy and bit­ter, with hints of almond, arti­choke, and grass. Part of our prod­uct is made with de-pit­ted olives that must be picked when they are at least 70 per­cent green,” Azzolini explained, adding that the har­vest must be antic­i­pated to catch fruits at the begin­ning of verai­son, in order to obtain a prod­uct char­ac­ter­ized by deci­sive pun­gency and fruiti­ness.

Olio Cru

As we move to Veneto, Valpolicella is the pro­tected des­ig­na­tion of ori­gin of an extra vir­gin olive oil pro­duced in the area sit­u­ated on the right side of the Adige river. Monica Vaccarella man­ages 1.5 hectares (3.7 acres) of olive grove with 500 plants at an alti­tude of 400 meters (1,312 feet), in Avesa, between the Val Borago and the Val Gavina.

Two steps away from Verona, the native vari­eties Grignano and Favarol flank the more wide­spread Frantoio, Pendolino, Leccino and Leccio del Corno. I pro­duce two blends, of which the Veneto Valpolicella PDO is my flag­ship,” said Vaccarella, as she explained that she com­bines 60 per­cent of local cul­ti­vars with the other ones in accor­dance with the prod­uct spec­i­fi­ca­tion of the pro­tected denom­i­na­tion of ori­gin which requires that at least half of the extra vir­gin olive oil con­sists of native types.

Monica Vaccarella during harvest

These two local vari­eties make the oil enjoy­able, while the early har­vest gives energy to it and allows the taste to expand with for­mi­da­ble bit­ter­ness and pun­gency,” our pro­ducer said while describ­ing her extra vir­gin olive oil with aro­mas of white fruit, grass and basil.

The olive trees were planted by her father Angelo 27 years ago, and she started to man­age the olive grove in 2010. They carry out a so-called bal­anced prun­ing which helps to avoid bio­log­i­cal alter­na­tion of high and low yields. It is a painstak­ing and drain­ing work which takes two months since we oper­ate on the small­est branches,” Vaccarella revealed.

However, the flat land­scape facil­i­tates har­vest and in one day they can col­lect 800 to 1,000 kilo­grams (1,764 – 2,205 pounds) of olives. We crush them within 6 hours, that is the only way to get the most out of the fruits and reach such a low level of acid­ity,” she remarked. I am glad when peo­ple open the bot­tle of my oil and get excited.”


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