` Terres de l’Ebre Growers Celebrate Annual Olive Oil Fair - Olive Oil Times

Terres de l’Ebre Growers Celebrate Annual Olive Oil Fair

Feb. 24, 2014
Julie Butler

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les Terres de l’Ebre

Despite one of their worst har­vests in decades — due to a dire trio of drought, wind and the olive fly — the olive pro­duc­ers of les Terres de l’Ebre threw a lively olive oil fair last week­end in the vil­lage of Jesús.

Hailing from the lands around the Ebro river, Spain’s sec­ond longest river, and blessed by sunny skies, they were joined by sev­eral hun­dred vis­i­tors at the Fira de l’Oli de les Terres de l’Ebre, held near Tortosa, the cap­i­tal of the dis­trict of Baix Ebre on the south­ern Catalan coast.

While the arbe­quina oliva vari­ety pre­dom­i­nates in other parts of Catalonia, in this area the native vari­eties sevil­lenca, mor­ruda and farga, as well as some empel­tre, are more com­mon. Mostly rain­fed plan­ta­tions, they are fairly hardy but even so the com­bined clout of severe drought in the area last year and par­tic­u­larly bad prob­lems with the olive fly took a heavy toll. Local grow­ers — speak­ing to Olive Oil Times while over­looked by wind farms on nearby hills — said the pre­vail­ing wind is not on its own a prob­lem but had exac­er­bated the loss of both quan­tity and qual­ity.

Strong com­mu­nity spirit

At the offi­cial open­ing of the fair on Saturday, Pere Panisello, orga­niz­ing com­mit­tee pres­i­dent and local mayor, said the result was one of the poor­est har­vests in decades. Yet, our olive oil pro­duc­ers have never been more involved in the fair,” he said. Panisello also sin­gled out the strong pres­ence of young entre­pre­neurs, who made the fair their own.”

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Olive oil, and all that is related with it, every year inspires us to pre­pare a pro­gram of events that has again this year been very pop­u­lar with the pub­lic, as evi­denced by hav­ing fifty entrants in the olive pit spit­ting com­pe­ti­tion and thirty tak­ing part in the alli­oli con­test,” he said.

Olive oil com­pe­ti­tion

The final tast­ings to decide the win­ners out of the final­ists in the 30th edi­tion of the Olive Oils of les Terres de l’Ebre com­pe­ti­tion were held onstage on Sunday, an oppor­tu­nity used by orga­niz­ers to teach atten­dees a lit­tle about the cri­te­ria used to assess the qual­ity of extra vir­gin olive oils (EVOOs).

The award for best oil over­all, and also for the best sin­gle estate oil, was won by the Mas Beturià lim­ited edi­tion arbe­quina EVOO, made in Batea. The prize for best oil from the Baix Ebre – Montsià DOP went to Aureum, (Soldebre coop­er­a­tive, Tortosa), that for the Terra Alta DOP went to Olikua (CECA, Gandesa), and that for the Siurana DOP went to Mussefres (La Serra d’Almos coop­er­a­tive), while first prize for the non-DOP entries went to Select Cast (Soldebre).

José Luis Solé

Next har­vest expected to be a stun­ner

Rice and wine are among other key agri­cul­tural prod­ucts in the lands around the Ebro river. In the case of wine and olive oil, they were the basic agri­cul­tural prod­ucts in the dis­tricts of Baix Ebre and Montsià in the 14th cen­tury. According to his­to­rian Enric Bayerri, an olive grove, a vine­yard, or both, were the assets most declared by local vil­lagers in an offi­cial inven­tory in 1353.

Though this year’s olive oil har­vest was over soon after it began and the pre­vi­ous one was so-so”, pro­duc­ers pre­dict the next one will be excep­tional”.


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