`Extrascape: Great Olive Oil Begins with a Landscape - Olive Oil Times

Extrascape: Great Olive Oil Begins with a Landscape

Feb. 24, 2012
Luciana Squadrilli

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The land­scape of Castillo de Canena in Jaén, Spain

From extra­or­di­nary lans­d­scapes come extra­or­di­nary prod­ucts, espe­cially if we are talk­ing about extra vir­gin olive oil. This is the the­sis that under­lies Extrascape, the new inter­na­tional com­pe­ti­tion which awards both extra vir­gin olive oils and the land­scapes from which they were born.

Actually Extrascape is some­thing that goes beyond a nor­mal com­pe­ti­tion. It was launched by Italian pro­ducer Francesco Travaglini and food, wine and tourism expert Michele Vitale – both based in Molise, one of the most rural among Italian regions – with the col­lab­o­ra­tion of local author­ithies (Sprint Molise, a regional agency for inter­na­tional devel­op­ment, and Regione Molise), Italian uni­ver­si­ties (La Sapienza University of Rome, the Tuscia University and the Molise University), and in part­ner­ship with Olive Oil Times.

Their aim is to pro­mote olive oil cul­ture world­wide, cre­at­ing ties for experts and pro­duc­ers from dif­fer­ent coun­tries, just as they already made at a local level with Molisextra (the Molisan extra vir­gin olive oil pro­duc­ers’ asso­ci­a­tion) and Agrycult – an online net­work for Italian inde­pen­dent farm­ers.

They picked out as a key ele­ment the olive trees them­selves and the land­scape where they grow, as they are an inte­gral part of the envi­ron­ment in many Italian regions, in the whole Mediterranean area and in many coun­tries through­out the world.

So, they decided to award not only the best extra vir­gin olive oil, but also the land­scape. Do not imag­ine beau­ti­ful images to be put on post­cards, though (even if, of course, some­times they are). The word land­scape, in this case, has a wider mean­ing: Imagine envi­ron­men­tal care, har­mony with the sur­round­ings, respect­ful farm­ing tech­niques — a well-con­ceived mix of ethics, sus­tain­abil­ity, his­tor­i­cal her­itage and pure beauty, with­out fail­ing to men­tion taste, as a well growth land can only pro­duce good fruits.”

An inter­na­tional jury will eval­u­ate the extra vir­gin olive oils which will have been already selected as not defec­tive by the pro­fes­sional tasters in the panel of Larino, on the base of the meth­ods of the International Olive Council. But the final­ists will face an addi­tional eval­u­a­tion by a pro­fes­sional jury set up by the uni­ver­si­ties who will judge the qual­ity of the land­scapes through pic­tures and a pre­pared eval­u­a­tion form with all the nec­es­sary infor­ma­tion.

The final assess­ment – both indi­vid­ual and com­par­a­tive — will be processed by a mixed jury made up of pro­fes­sional tasters, jour­nal­ists, dis­ci­pli­nary experts, agron­o­mists, econ­o­mists and land­scape archi­tects, who will jointly eval­u­ate oils and their land­scapes. The results will show that a well-man­tained land is the best way to pro­duce a good olive oil, and that it can also become a fur­ther income source as a tourist attrac­tion.

As a mat­ter of fact, just to under­line the deep link between olive tree cul­ti­va­tion and the ter­ri­tory and its poten­tial impor­tance in the tourist cir­cuits, the Extrascape award cer­e­mony will take place in the con­text of a wider event Sosta al Tratturo, held in San Martino in Pensilis, a pitoresque vil­lage in the Molise coun­try­side, on the same days (29th April — 1st May) of the his­tor­i­cal event of the Carrese.

Sosta al Tratturo Carrese

But Extrascape’s bor­ders are definetly broader. The Italian event – wich will include also a con­gress, work­shops and a pho­to­graphic con­test – will only be the first step in an inter­na­tional series of meet­ings and events. One will soon take place in the U.S., involv­ing the pres­ti­gious Tony Mantuano‘s La Spiaggia restau­rant in Chicago, and Olive Oil Times as a main part­ner of the ini­tia­tive.

Producers inter­ested in enter­ing the com­pe­ti­tion can read the reg­u­la­tions here.


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