Olive Oil Tasting
April, 2005 (Updated February, 2006)
In April, 2005, a group of brave individuals gathered at Wyndhavyn for an Olive Oil tasting of 28 selections in 6 flights and a cold lunch. Each olive oil was presented double blind in a tasting cup and tasters were asked to evaluate it based on its flavor alone and on a selection of food - here is the menu. Where possible I've noted the olive varietals in each oil and the last note is the source for the bottle which we used in the tasting. - Joanne

Our Favorite:
Moulin Jean-Marie Cornille

More Favorites:

• Geraci
• Lila Jaegers 2004
• Augusto (Terra Salentina)
• McEvoy Ranch 2004
• Gasull
• Colonna 2003
• Monte Pollino di Trappato Gold Selection

Favorites by Flight

Flight One

Flight Two Monte Pollino di Trappeto Gold Selection
Flight Three Geraci
Flight Four Lila Jaegers 2004 
Flight Five Moulin Jean Marie Cornille 
Flight Six (no favorite)

Flights were roughly ordered lighter to stronger/heavier flavors. The order seemed to work out pretty well for the tasters. Each oil was tasted double blind. All the oils were letter coded and samples were pre-poured into little cups. If a taster brought an oil to the tasting it was assigned a letter code and inserted into a pre-arranged flight.

The big surprise for Joanne was how prominent "spiciness" was in the olive oils. Many of the oils tasted were very peppery. Tannins were also a big feature in the oils that she didn't expect. The favorite of the oils tasted was the only oil that wasn't Extra Virgin.

Tasting foils included lettuce leaves, potato wedges, bread cubes, cucumber and granny smith apple slices. To make the final favorite decisions tasters had of the flights available to them for re-tasting. Olive Oils were revealed after all the rankings were made blind. Costs ranged between about $5 and $40 a bottle.

Olive Oil Tasting Flight
Flight One

Vicopisano – Extra Virgin – Tuscany, Italy – (Frantoio) ”Monti Pisani” 2003 – Gustiamo
Lila Jaegers Extra Virgin – 2003 - Napa Valley Cold Pressed – The Olive Press, Glen Ellen
McEvoy Ranch Extra Virgin Organic 2001 (Frantoio, Leccino, Pendolino, Maurino, Coratina, Leccio del Corno) Cold Pressed Unfiltered Petaluma, CA – Whole Foods?
McEvoy Ranch Extra Virgin Organic 2004 (Frantoio, Leccino, Pendolino, Maurino, Coratina, Leccio del Corno) Cold Pressed Unfiltered Petaluma, CA – Whole Foods?
Augusto – Terra Salentina- Salento, Italy (Cellina) – (no US Importer yet)

Flight 2 Olive Oil Tasting
Flight Two

Fattoria Casamora Florilegium Extra Virgin (Moraiolo, Frantoio, & Leccino) Arezzo, Italy (Tuscany) – Gustiamo
Vicopisano – Extra Virgin ”Monti Pisani” 2004 – Tuscany –(Frantoio) – Gustiamo
Frantoia -Extra Virgin – Sicily, Italy (Nocellara, Ogliarola, Biancollia) – Whole Foods
Colonna Extra Virgin 1st cold pressed Unfiltered -2003 – (Leccino, Cima di Melfi, Rosciola, Maiatica, Nocellara del Belice, Peranzana, Gentile di Larino, Frantoio, Ascolana tenera, Coratina, FS17, 177, Nociara, Itrana, Kalamata) San Martino, Italy – Molino, Italy - Dean & DeLuca

Olive Oil Tasting Flight 1
Flight Three

Geraci Cold Pressed Extra Virgin (Nocellara del Belice) – Sicily, Italy – Gustiamo
Laudemio Marchesi de Frescobaldi Extra Virgin Olive Oil Firenze, Italy
Bariani Extra Virgin-2004 Stone crushed, cold pressed, decanted, unfiltered (Manzanillo & Mission) Sacramento, CA – Whole Foods
Gasull Extra Virgin – Cold Pressed (Arbequina) Catalonia, Spain
Lapas Extra Virgin Organic 1st Cold Pressed – Mani, Greece – Artisan Choice of Whole Foods – Whole Foods

Some Thoughts by Jack

This was a tough tasting; judging which oil was better was very challenging. The quality of most of the olive oils was really excellent, including grocery store brands. Also, I don't think it's a stretch to say that most artisan-made olive oils are quality products.

Our winner was the only olive oil classified as Virgin - the rest were Extra Virgin. I bet many won't even purchase an olive oil that's not extra virgin - if they can find one. Next time we update this tasting, we have to include other non-Extra Virgin oils and I'll want to include some Australian olive oils in the tasting as well.

Flight 6 Olive oil tasting
Flight Four

Marquesa Extra Virgin Organic – California Olive Press
Storm Olive Ranch Extra Virgin – 2004 Pope Valley, CA
Willow Creek Ranch Pasolivo - Olio Nuovo – Dec 04 (Frantoio, Pendolino, Lucca, Leccino, Moraiolo) – Zingermans

Lila Jaegers Extra Virgin 2004 – Napa Valley Cold Pressed The Olive Press, Glen Ellen
Monte Pollino di Trappeto Extra Virgin Gold Selection - (Ogghiaredda olives - 1st cold pressed) - Sicily, Italy from Trader's Joe (not pictured)

Flight 5 Olive Oil Tasting
Flight Five

Sunny Select - Raley's (not pictured)
Moulin Jean-Marie Cornille Huile D’Olive de la Vallee des Baux de Provence (salonenque, grossane, béruguette, picholine, verdale) – Kermit Lynch also - Formaggio Kitchen
Costco Brand (not pictured)
Puget Extra Virgin 1st Cold Pressed - France – Whole Foods
Zoe Organic Extra Virgin Olive Oil 1st cold pressing – Castilla - La Mancha, Spain - Berkeley

Flight 1
Flight Six

DaVero Tuscan Estate Extra Virgin Fattoria Bernardini – unfiltered, 1st press, stone crushed, hand picked (Leccino-50%, Frantoio-25%, Maurino 15%, Pendolino 10%) - Dean & DeLuca
Oro del Contadino Extra Virgin cold pressed Italy - Cost Plus
D.O. Baena Nunez de Prado Organic Extra Virgin Unfiltered early harvest – Baena, Spain - Artisan Choice of Whole Foods Market – Whole Foods

Flights set up
Four Flights In Line

Table Tasting Station
The Tasting Table

The Tasting Foils

Pre-poured flights ready to be tasted

For more on Olive Oil:
A great article on Olive Oil by Wayne Bremser at 101 Cookbooks (February 2, 2006).

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