The new 2020/2021 harvest is finished and we had the opportunity to taste many news oils. Whilst there have been significant changes in volumes of production around the Mediterranean, we continue to find real gems of carefully crafted premium olive oils from our partners.
Frantoio Franci, the award-winning artisan producer based in Tuscany, with the highest score of 100 points in the 2021 edition of Flos Olei, has launched a single variety coratina which we highly recommend for lovers of intense olive oils. It displays a powerful and elegant taste, complex with well-defined bitter and spicy notes of long persistence and good harmony. We have thoroughly enjoyed it drizzled over a butternut squash soup. The Toscano IGP has won another Gold Medal at the 2020 New York International Olive Oil Competition. This medium fruity Tuscan is particularly well suited to a tomato and mozzarella salad.
In Spain, our partner Oro Bailen is back with their 4 monocultivar extra virgin olive oils, hojiblanca, arbequina, picual and frantoio. Whilst picual continues to be regarded as one of the world's finest olive oils, winning year after year gold medals in the most prestigious competitions, we have been delighted to discover the new 2020/2021 hojiblanca, the mildest oil in the range. It has a beautiful fruitiness and is great to embark on a journey into the world of premium olive oils.
In Tunisia, after a particularly warm fall, our partner Domaine Fendri had to wait until the second half of November to start the harvest. A drop in temperatures is crucial to give the mild chemlali variety its fruitiness. We found the new 2020/2021 oil to be balanced, complex in flavours with a long finish and a slight degree of bitterness. We enjoyed it on fresh vegetables and sourdough bread. Domaine Fendri was a finalist in the 2020 edition of the Mario Solinas International Olive Oil Competition.
For its 2020 edition of the Great Taste Awards, we are delighted to have won 7 new recognitions together with our partners.
1. Due Vittorie Apple Vinegar: won 3 Great Taste stars (won by less than 2% of the participants in the competition). Here are some of the judges’ comments: "Beautiful, deep golden vinegar. The aroma is of bittersweet apples. The taste.....wow, the taste. We had to check that there wasn't honey in the ingredients such was the level of sweetness that married perfectly with the acetic, rich, caramel balsamic. The viscosity is that of a darker, older balsamic...the length is unwavering in its balanced purity....What a corker. An aroma of fine old wood furniture and a cellar filled with barrels draws you in. The flavour is both fruity and sharp, beautifully crafted and perfectly balanced. We could drink this product as it is. Quite delicious. There is a roundness and sweetness that harmonises with the acetic tang. This is made by someone who really knows what they are doing. What a pleasure to taste this. Glorious....Caramel and rich in appearance, beautifully clear. A prominent cooked apple aroma. WOW! what a delicious vinegar - sweet “caramelly” notes balanced by the sharp vinegar. Still very much an apple cider vinegar but does have some of the character of a balsamic, which the method of production obviously has created.
2. Oro Bailen Arbequina extra virgin olive oil: won 2 Great Taste stars. The Great Taste judges mentioned :” There is a great deal of character to this oil whilst still being gentle.”
3. Oro Bailen Frantoio extra virgin olive oil: won 1 Great Taste star. Commenting on Oro Bailed Frantoio, the Great Taste judges mentioned “beautiful, deep, green gold oil with a sparkling clear appearance and aromas of warm freshly cut, sweet meadow hay. On the palate it is rich, smooth and creamily textured, fresh-tasting with notes of tomato leaf and bitter herb, followed by a vigorous, spicy pepper impact hitting the senses. High levels of lasting peppery heat, a certain pungency and a vegetal bitterness populate the finish. A gold-green oil with apple and wild rocket intensity on the nose.”
4. Oro Bailen Hojiblanca extra virgin olive oil: won 1 Great Taste star. Commenting on Oro Bailen Hojiblanca, the Great Taste judges ...” What an exquisite colour of golden green, perfectly clear. The aroma of freshly cut grass also has elements of cold buttered artichokes and green bananas. The mouthfeel and texture are silky smooth with a fresh young olive fruitiness, a little bitterness midpalate, and a warm and reassuring pepperiness on the finish….Vibrant in colour with a grassy, citrus nose. Peppery, meadowy and fruity in taste.”
5. Moulins Mahjoub organic hand-rolled wholewheat m'hamsa: won 1 Great Taste star. The judges found : "There was also an array of nutty flavours here that ranged from walnut to hazelnut which we enjoyed"
6. Moulins Mahjoub organic Tunisian shakshuka: won 1 Great Taste star. "This tastes homemade and without any taint from being jarred" said a judge.
7. Moulins Mahjoub organic artisan sauce with black olives and artichokes: won 1 Great Taste star. The judges commented on its "Wonderful vibrant colour with fabulous fresh aroma. A true smell of the Med. The flavour from the olives and artichokes is outstanding. All the ingredients are bringing an amazing fresh zing."
The Artisan Olive Oil Company is a London based importer, distributor and wholesaler serving independent, speciality and organic stores as well as department stores across the UK.