The purchase of olive
oil is often among the most difficult quotidian activities of housewifes and of
everyone who loves the good cuisine.
We do not always have the opportunity to meet and know personally a producer or have an olive oil mill in our neighborhood. This explains why many of us are forced to turn to the large-scale retail trade, with all the pitfalls and possible frauds that involve this product in particular.
Let’s try then to
understand how to defend ourselves from fraud or counterfeiting and above all
to add some tools that allow us to choose a good oil, clean, fair and above all
Meanwhile, we refer you
to the following technical notes that help us understand what we mean, in
Calabria, with the expression “first cold pressed”.
“First pressed” – means the olives were crushed and pressed only one time. The olive oil extracted from the first pressing is of the highest quality and purity.
“Cold pressed” – means that the olives never exceed a certain temperature during the entire pressing process– around 80 degrees Fahrenheit.
Only a first cold pressed olive oil can meet high standards of quality, because purity of oil increases only following such process.
This year (2019), a real
1 Lt bottle of 100%-Italian extra virgin olive oil should not cost less than 8
euros. Below this figure it is legitimate to doubt about origin and quality.
If you follow such
guidance and instructions, then there are no offers, promotions and below
costs, which can be included in the definition of EVO.
Therefore, watch out for
the harvest year which, if present, reveals that all the olives with which the
oil was made were harvested in the same year.
HOW TO DETERMINE THE PRICE:
Olive grower receives
4.7 euros for a kilo of oil.
The wholesale price then rises to 5.5 euros.
Once worked by the olive
oil industry the cost rises to 6.67 euros which includes: VAT, salaries of
those who work there, marketing and bottle.
Please, add also the
profit of the industry which is around 4% and the GDO margin, on average 15%
The final price
therefore comes to around 8 euros. Lower prices are, sadly, only Community
blends, potentially frauding!!
According to a well
known research of Mr. Gennaro Sicolo, president of Italia Ovicola (an
organization that involves 50% of olive growers in Italy), about one bottle out
of two of extra virgin olive oil contains deodorized oils that are then mixed
with Italian oils to give it a bit of flavor and reach the basic chemical and
organoleptic parameters to be labeled as extra virgin.
“After two months
on the shelf these oils in the panel test can be considered as
adulterated,” explains Gennaro Sicolo.
But how is this scam happens?
In Italy the olives are harvested between September and October at the right point of ripeness, with a yield of 10 – 13 kg of oil per quintal of olives.
In Spain and Tunisia the
harvest begins in January, when the raw material is very mature, in order to
have a greater yield. But from a very ripe olive an acid oil is born, so that
to remedy it is mixed with a bit of 100% Italian so as to obtain a light fruity
that recalls the normal smell and taste of extra Virgin olive oil.
The price of such blend?
deodorized oil lots cost around 2.2-2.4 euros per liter, but to the consumer a
mixture of such European community oils costs at least 5 euros … And here
this lower price reveal itself as an indicator (certainly not the only one) if
not of quality, of the absence of quality!!
The same History of the Western world begins, according to Homer, with a divine deliberation about the disagreement to be posed between East and West, with the proud disagreement of the Achaean (the Greeks) from the East of Troy, and with the legendary war of the same name.
seal the decision of the gods intervenes the wine, that which divine Ebe pours
to the Olympians, a wine certainly ancient, as immemorial are the traces in
Calabria, in the land called “Locride”, of the production, coeval
with Homer and perhaps the facts of Troy, of this magnificent vine elixir.
Thus Homer tells how the glass of Hebe, filled with wine is offered to the gods of Olympus, shortly before they decide the fate of Troy and the new world of the Achaeans (the Greeks):
“Sitting around Zeus,
the gods were at
conference / on
a gold floor, and between
their Ebe, venerable, /
poured wine them like the
nectar; those with the
gold cups /
drink a toast, while
look at Troy “.
Iliad IV, 1 ssg.
In the classical Greek world Hebe (“Ηβη, Hebe) does not have a well-defined history, it is a” discreet goddess “; however Hesiod speaks of it often and we like to imagine that the ancient archaeological sites, found in Calabria where the must was treated (the so-called “Palmenti”), were the primitive place where wine was for the first time “pro-created” by the ancient Bruzi and then by the Greek colonists. Yes, “pro-created”, born, for the first time in the Western world in collaboration with a creator, ….but not with the Goddess Hebe, but with God himself, who intended to give it to the “land of men”…
FROM THE MYTH TO HISTORY AND
The ancient millstones excavated in the rock are the clear material document, in the area of Locride, very close to the site of the “Passito di Bianco”, of the relative flourishing and long-lasting production of wine in this territory, suited for the cultivation of vines from immemorial time.
The abundant presence of rock mills (tanks of sandstone for the decantation of the must), dug into the rock, represents a very important testimony of the flourishing wine culture in Calabria. This phenomenon describes indirectly and in an important way the agricultural landscape of a specific area of the Locride, that is that of the Ionian coast of Reggio included between the municipalities of Bruzzano, Ferruzzano, S. Agata del Bianco, Caraffa del Bianco, Casignana, Africo and Samo, where a massive concentration of over 700 specimens has been found.
A RELIC OF ANCIENT MEDITERRANEAN WINE
manufacts made in the rock are part of the oldest production facilities for
wine. Some rocky remains of the western Mediterranean date back to the first
millennium BC, but since it is a technique used in all historical periods and
lacking artifacts that prove its age, their dating is often difficult.
types of millstones are also mentioned in the Bible [Jeremiah 48.33; Job 24,11]
and have been present in Syria and Israel since the Bronze Age, where there are
even more than 10,000; they were also found in Greece, particularly in Crete
and the small island of Gaudos, used from the Minoan to the Hellenistic age.
The millstones of the area of Locride, instead, express the evident vocation of this territory, since Biblic time or Homeric, to viticulture and to the production of wines that from here were then shipped to the Mediterranean ports.
WINE-MAKING AT THE TIME OF HOMER
“Palmenti” show the primordial techniques in which the crushing of
the grapes was carried out with the feet, as the paintings of the tombs of
Ancient Egypt describe well.
The name “palmento” derives from the Latin pavimentum: it consisted of basins dug into the sandstone, an upper one called, in actual Calabrian dialect, “buttìscu” and a lower one called “pinàci”, made communicating with each other through a hole. The sandstone is a very friable rock and where this was not present, the stalks were built in mixed masonry and made impermeable with a layer of sand and lime plaster mixed with earthenware of a thickness of about 3 cm.
palmenti were equipped with a channel that allowed the outflow of the liquid
squeezed into a basin for fermentation, both made of clay. Then in the upper
basin there were grooves in the side walls, where a large table full of holes (
in actual Calabrian dialect:“la foràta”) was placed, which served to create a
narrow passage (“consu”) into which the pomace was poured to be further crushed
by a large table of holed oak wood called “chjancùni”.
Once the processing practices were completed in the millstones, the must produced was finally placed in the wine amphorae.
good part of the many millstones of this area of Calabria, which revolved
around the prosperous Magna Graecia colony of Locri Epizephirii, are
hypothesized to date back to a period between the 7th and 4th century BC, due
to some archaeological materials found later, in Ferruzzano and in the towns of
the district of S. Domenica and Carruso: some fragments of tiles, in Greek
“pithoi”, plus a fragment of a Locrese vase and a fragment of a
Corinthian vase, as well as the base of a MGS amphora (Greek-Italic).
OBLIVION AND REDISCOVERY OF CALABRIAN
various surveyed and studied milestones, Byzantine crosses have also been
identified, which therefore indicate that wine production continued to be
present and lasting even in the sixth century AD: among them we must remember
two extremely important ones since they bear the Justinian cross engraved,
unique examples in Calabria.
This area is also rich in Basilian caves and architectural ruins: this suggests that the landscape has been transformed over the centuries, alternating between buildings, destruction, reconstructions and movements from the coast to the hinterland.
AN HISTORY REPEATING: OBLIVION OF
not too long ago, given that the use was ignored, the Palmenti were used even
as troughs for the animals; others, unused, were destroyed to make way for the
cultivation of the land.
Such oblivion is a symbol of History repeating: Western world and Italy forget origins of wine making as a gift, as a “procreation” of Calabria!
One of many unique features of Calabria’s Wine Region is its great number of vines, representing the genetic root of all Italian and Western vines. Apart the ancient tecnique of Palmenti, which was “pro-created” here, you cannot count the popular indigenous varietals like Gaglioppo, as well as many that are still being re-discovered today, which gave rise, genetically and archeologically, to the highest number of indigenous grapes of all Italy and the World.
first production of a pure wine of vine in Armenia, 6,000 years ago, only
Calabria and its Magna Graecia gave to the world a unitary tecnique of
production and winemaking.
This is the main reason why the top of global wine list elected Calabria for decades as the land of more interesting wines, not only for the region’s untouched splendor and beauty, but also for the history of its wines!