Extra virgin olive oil, how to buy it



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.

Difficult to understand…

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 healthy.

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.


Olive grower receives 4.7 euros for a kilo of oil.

The wholesale price then rises to 5.5 euros.

No quality, no label

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?

No tag, no quality

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?

Wholesale these 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!!

An ancient mission of Calabria: pro-create Wine!


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.

The Legendary War of Troy

To 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

turning their

look at Troy “.

Iliad IV, 1 ssg.

The statue of Ebe from Canova

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”…

Gift of God


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.

Palmenti in Calabria


The 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.

These 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.

Near Bianco and Locri


The “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 near Ferruzzano, in front of Ionian sea

The 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.

Wine Amphora

A 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).


On 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.

Greek Ruins


Until 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!

Oblivion of ancient wine making

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.

Since 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!

The golden mask of Agamemnon