Why Early Harvest, Extra Virgin Olive Oil ?
Early Harvest EVOO, has had little exposure and is relatively unknown in Chile, but in Europe it is the most prized olive oil of all, known as Agourelaio in Greece, Olio Novello in Southern Italy and Nuovo in the north. This means literally unripe oil, and is the most expensive and sought after oil, with the most aroma, and highest antioxidant content.
Great olive oil results from an ideal terroir, suffering low yields and harvesting at a point of perfect underripeness, just as the olives turn from green to black.
Over the years, Folk have learnt the finer points associated with quality wine, similarly Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO) has qualities and tastes that have to be tried to discover the differences. Not all EVOO is the same!
Just as subtle differences in grape source and vinification can profoundly influence the quality of a wine, there are factors that separate great olive oils from merely good ones. Here are the most important of them:
Beautiful olive oil is produced throughout the Chilean Central valley, for us, our coastal climate, while too cool for quality wine is outstanding for the olives, they thrive on our cool sea breezes and sparkling summer days on the fertile banks of Laguna Torca.
Although we have a marine microclimate , our policy of early harvest means we avoid any risk of frost damaged fruit.
In addition, Chile has one great advantage over the rest of the world´s olive producers, no dreaded Olive fruit fly.This saves the huge amount of insecticides needed to control this olive fruit destroying pest.
We harvest early at Hacienda Laguna Torca, this year we had finished entirely by the end of May.
The fruit was unmarked and hand picked by our local ladies. They have to be hand picked as the fruit has still got a good grip on the mother tree! The fruit itself is firm, but still blessed with great oil.
Early-harvest oils also have extraordinary structure—plus the ability to withstand the four old enemies of olive oil: age, heat, light and air. In fact, a good early-harvest oil , if properly stored, can keep for two or more years with ease. In contrast, most commercially available olive oils (including many expensive ones) already show noticeable deterioration six months after the harvest.
The explanation is simple, early-harvest olives have substantially more tannins which, as in wine, retard oxidation. Consequently, maintaining their fresh aromas and flavors.
OK, so why doesn´t everyone produce early harvest oils?
It’s very labor-intensive, costly and slow. Early picking also produces much less oil from the same weight of olives. We often obtain only one to two liters of olive oil per tree; the big commercial olive oil producers, who harvest later in the year, can get ten or more times that amount from a single tree!