Le Marche and Umbria
Umbria is located in the very centre of the Italy and is often referred to as Italy’s green heart and it has many world famous and beautiful cities such as Perugia and Spoleto. The olive oil from this region is light and fruity with a wonderful aroma and ideal for salads and pasta.
Le Marche is located on the Italy’s east coast and has the Apennine Mountains to its west and a long Adriatic coastline. This region of Italy is often referred to as, All of Italy in one region because of its wonderful long coastline, then the wide coastal plain and finally the Sibillini Mountains running north to south on its western flank. Normally Tuscany is considered as the region of Italy from which the best olive oils are to be found, but this is actually inaccurate as there are many other regions of Italy that produce olive oils which are just as refined, and in Umbria and Le Marche you csn find many fine oils produced there. The olive varieties commonly found in both Umbria and Le Marche are the Frantoio and Leccino varieties and these are also grown in most olive oil producing parts of Italy.
Umbria has the Moraiolo, Pendolino, Don Carlo and Dolce Agogia olives as well as the other varieties of olives that are commonly grown and used in the production of Extra virgin olive oil. Umbrian olive oils have a wonderful fruity flavour, are full bodied and have a scented aroma and are widely used in some of the best restaurants all over the world where they are mainly used in salads and on pasta dishes. The soil and olive varieties in Umbria allows the olive tree to produce luscious fruits and so the olive oils produced in the region are very full flavoured and with an aroma with a hint of almonds and a slightly creamy texture to the body of the olive oil.
In Le Marche as well as the more commonly found Leccino and Frantoio olives there are also up to twenty other varieties of olives in common use in the region. These include the Raggia, Mignola Ascolana Tenera and Sargano varieties and this leads to the Le Marche being able to offer to the consumer a wonderful selection of monovarietal olive oils.Olivaverde imports a minimum of three monovarietal olive oils from Le Marche and these include the Raggia, Leccino and Sargano varieties.
Olive oil from the Le Marche region is a light olive oil with an aroma often having hints of grass and young almond, and because of the particular climate and soil conditions in the region, the olive oils in different areas of Le Marche can offer widely differing tasting experiences to the consumer.
Sicily, Puglia and Calabria
Sicily, Puglia and Calabria are all regions in the far south of Italy and their climate is much more hot and dry than the central and northern parts of Italy. These three regions are responsible for over half the total amount of olive oil produced in Italy each year, Calabria alone produces over twenty five percent because of its favourable climate.
Sicily is the most southern region of Italy, and is a large island just south of the Italian mainland and north of the north african coast and Libya. Sicily has a climate which is very hot and dry in the summer and warm in the winter, it receives much less rain than on the Italian mainland and the land can seem quite barren but this is far from the case.
It has long been believed that Sicily’s fertile soil and especially in the volcanic regions to the east allow Sicilian farmers to produce some of the worlds finest olive oils. These oils tend to be slightly more green than found in most other olive oils and as the Sicilian trees are shorter than olive trees in other parts of Italy this allows the olives to be picked with less damage to the fruit than is often the case in other oil producing areas.
I have always found Sicilian olive oils to have a spicy taste and aroma and indeed some of my personal favourite olive oils do in fact come from the north eastern part of Sicly and are produced from some of the wonderful olive varieties to be found there.
Puglia is a region in the south and east of the Italian mainland, it has a long Adriatic coastline and some world famous cities such as Bari and Brindisi, as well as the beautiful city of Taranto on its southern coast. The famous beehived shaped houses, the trullo are found only in Puglia and are a must see for anyone planning a visit to Italy. The climate in this region is not as hot or dry as Sicily to the south but it still has wonderful long dry summers and warm winters. Puglia is considered by many to be the premier olive growing region of Italy due to its particular climate and fertile soils, also the varieties of olives grown there produce oils with deep colours and strong flavours. Olive oil produced in Puglia is often used in cooking as it has a particular property of not being degraded as easily as many other olive oils when exposed to heat.
Calabria is located in the south west of mainland Italy, forming the toe of the boot and the region is only just across the Straights of Messina from Sicily to the southwest.
The region has a long tradition of making fine olive oil and because of this Calabria produces over twenty five per cent of all the olive oil made in Italy and after the recent excellent harvests this figure could now exceed thirty per cent.
Calabrian Extra virgin olive oils are highly prized and in the 2009 Guide to the best olive oils in the world, two out of the top six olive oils were in fact Calabrian oils.
We at Olivaverde are passionate about the wonderful olive oil produced in all the five featured regions of Italy on our website and will continue over the coming years to search out many excellent extra virgin olive oils made with love by our friends, the small artisan farmers and producers of the lesser known regions of Italy.