This is the start of a new series of posts looking at the extra virgin olive oil that is actually on the shelves at the time of tasting. I am very lucky to have samples of evoo sent to me from time to time direct from the producers and of course this oil is likely to be the very best they produce. So I thought I would have regular look at what is actually on retail sale in the shops and on dedicated websites.
This month I start with two oils specifically featuring Italian evoo and one oil based on a blend of oils from around the EU. I shall start with the cheapest and work up to the most expensive.
Italiamo from Lidl
- This oil is labelled as 100% Italian.
- It has a best before date of 25.0.17.
- It is priced at £2.89 for 500ml
When I first smelt this oil I was not sure of the quality as it has a kind of slightly sickly and earthy quality which is a bit reminiscent of “fusty” oils, which is a fault caused by anaerobic fermentation either in the stack of olives waiting to be pressed or in the sediment which sometimes form in the base of a large vat of oil. However, there is no trace of this kind of taste in the mouth. However, the actual taste in the mouth does not have very much fruit. It is very bitter with bitter almond skins and slightly burnt treacle tones. Some pepper slowly grows and there is quite a strong nutty and peppery after-taste.
In my opinion this oil is not very good. It is rather unbalanced and does not have the attractive aromas and flavours that I would hope for. But I do not think that at this stage there is anything wrong with it. Given the price this is a reasonable buy if you like really robust oils. I do not kow whether it will stay the course to its “best buy” date.
Olio del Castello from Waitrose
- This oil is labelled as a blend of oils from the EU.
- It is unfiltered and packed in Italy, according to the neck label by a family owned business .
- It has a best before date of 11.17.
- It is priced at £8.75 for 1 litre (£4.32.50 for 50oml)
This oil has the kind of tropical fruit aromas with citrus tones which is typical of oils which are a blend of EU oils with plenty of Spanish oil in the mix. It is better than many in that it is not in the least sickly in character. The aromas include lemons, grapefruit, pineapple and ripe melons. The taste in the mouth is very similar with even more ripe fruit. Then there is a sudden and quite strong peppery kick, but very little bitterness. The aftertaste adds some guava and dried herbs to the mix.
This oil is good value for money. It is not very elegant but it offers a robust “Iberian” style of oil with reasonable balance and a long, pleasant after taste. It could certainly be used in most applications in the kitchen and at table and should last well into next year.
J Ciacca from Valvona & Crolla in Edinburgh
- This oil is labelled as harvested and pressed in Italy and comes from Lazio.
- It is produced by a family who originally came from Scotland so nice to see it here in Scotland.
- It has a harvest date of 4.11.2015 and a best before date of 03.09.17
- It is priced at £14.99 for 500ml
This oil has a very delicate aroma of herbs and apples with a touch of lemon citrus and a hint of nuts. The flavours in the mouth are largely herbaceous with a mixture of meadowsweet and stalky hay with nuts. Light almond skin bitterness grows with light pepper and all this merges into an after taste of nuts and biscuits.
This is a relatively delicate oil with some complexity in the mouth and very pleasant flavour tones throughout. It is well balanced and value-wise will be particularly attractive to those who like a first class olive oil but who do not want very strong flavours. It may or may not fade a bit in the coming year. Great for light salads and fish dishes, also for baking and mayonnaise.