As far as we can tell we are the only California producer that makes a mono-varietal from the Grossane olive. With over 20 varieties we are constantly experimenting with making some of California’s most interesting oils. With the Gold Series we choose the varieties that produced the very best oil for that particular year. This year we felt the Grossane was particularly distinctive and so we bottled a very small quantity that is only available on our website at www.apollooliveoil.com.
GROSSANE is originally from France. Our beautiful, young trees stretch across the western face of our orchard, and produce pleasant walnut, grassy, and fresh-cut vegetable flavors. With its long finish, GROSSANE is best raw, on steamed vegetables and fresh salads. (Delicate intensity – Milled December 2014 – 375 ml)
Legend has it that the GROSSANE was brought back from the crusades to the southern part of the Rhone valley. There, its plump, rosy pink and green olives are harvested for oil production, and later when the big olives have ripened black, for table olives.
[Certified Extra Virgin and Certified Organic | Free Fatty Acid: 0.25% |
682 mg/Kg polyphenols + 196 mg/Kg tocopherols = 878 mg/Kg total antioxidants]
Each year after the season’s milling is over, we start tasting the various batches of new oil and begin putting together our blends for the year. We always produce our MISTRAL and SIERRA flagship oils, aiming for the same award-winning flavor profiles and sufficient quantities for the growing demand for these, our Premium Extra Virgin oils. Then, we turn our attention to the Gold Series oils. We select a few distinctive barrels of pure, unblended oil from specific cultivars and microclimates of our orchard. With almost 20 different olive varieties to work with, there are many special flavors and varying intensities to choose from each year. Finally, we consider the SALÚTE, (pronounced suh-loot-tay) meaning “Good Health!” in Italian. It is the final blend made each year from our remaining batches of oil. Harvested and milled to the same exacting standards as all the rest of our oils, the flavor profile of the SALÚTE can change from year to year. This is our all-around oil that we offer in two larger sizes as our Economy oil, still organic, still certified extra virgin. You will never buy an inferior oil from Apollo.
This year there are five different Gold Series oils, available only on our website, www.apollooliveoil.com. In the next few newsletters we’re going to tell you more about each of these, starting here with the TAGGIASCA.
TAGGIASCA comes from Liguria, the Italian Riviera along the northwestern coast of Italy, and is known across the border in France as Niçoise. Unlike many other olive cultivars, TAGGIASCA is able to thrive in Liguria’s diverse microclimates from sea level up to 2000 ft elevation. More than that, the oil of TAGGIASCA is prized for it’s soft, fruity flavor, and is considered throughout Italy as one of the best olive oils. Amazingly, the ripe olives are so soft and mild it’s said they don’t need to be cured when used in cooking. (We’ll try that next harvest!)
TAGGIASCA does well in our orchard, flourishing at 1950 ft elevation, and producing an excellent, sweet oil that leaves a clean feeling palate. With a scent of cinnamon, flavors of sweet almond and arugula, TAGGIASCA is ideal raw, with fresh bread, mild foods, and creamy dishes.
Delicate intensity – Milled December 2014 – 375 ml
Certified Extra Virgin and Certified Organic
Free Fatty Acid: 0.25%
630 mg/Kg polyphenols + 165 mg/Kg tocopherols = 795 mg/Kg total antioxidants
Pesto sauce comes from Liguria, where the mild TAGGIASCA is considered THE oil for making pesto. If you want to prepare a real Pesto alla Genovese, here is the official Italian ‘Pesto alla Genovese’ recipe by the Consorzio del Pesto Genovese. Translated as follows by the Italy Magazine:
Ingredients: (Makes sauce for 600 g of pasta)
Genoese basil – 50 grams, preferably young and fresh.
Ligurian Extra Virgin Olive Oil – 1/2 cup
Grated Cheese – 6 tablespoons of Parmigiano Reggiano DOP or Grana Padano DOP
and 2 tablespoons of Pecorino
Garlic – 2 cloves
Pine nuts – 1 tablespoon of nuts from the Mediterranean
Walnuts – (optional) 1 tablespoon may be substituted for pine nuts
Coarse Sea Salt – a few grains
Wash the basil in cold water and set aside to dry on a towel.
In the mortar, crush the cloves of garlic with a few grains of salt until the garlic has softened. Begin adding basil leaves (but don’t add all at once!)
The essential oils of basil are stored in the veins of the leaves. For the best taste, you must be careful not to tear or shear the leaves. Use a gentle circular motion, slowly crush the basil by moving the pestle around the edges of the mortar.
When you notice a bright green liquid being drawn from the leaves, it is time to add the pine nuts.
Once softened, add the cheeses, and finally the olive oil in a very thin stream.
Preparation should take place at room temperature and the sauce should be served immediately to avoid oxidation. So pour it over the pasta, possibly linguine or strozza preti, and enjoy!
We keep running across website claims that extra virgin olive oil must be less than a year old to be fresh (often promoted by suppliers of imported oils from the southern hemisphere). Well, we wanted to put our oils to the test and see how they held up against that claim, so we sent last year’s Mistral and a two and half year old Sierra that had been opened for two weeks to the lab for analysis. The results just came back. Both oils still easily passed all the tests for extra virginity, and to boot, retained very high levels of antioxidants:
Mistral milled in December 2013
0.2% fatty acid
537 ppm antioxidants, only a 4% decrease since its initial testing
Sierra milled in December 2012, and open for two weeks
0.25% fatty acid
684 ppm antioxidants, only a 10% decrease since its initial testing
These results are so remarkable they even surprised us. Our oils start out with such high levels of antioxidants, it seems they are just about impervious to oxidation and aging. The antioxidants protect the oil like they protect our bodies.
It is the season when the results of the international olive oil competitions are announced. 500 olive oils were entered into the Los Angeles International Competition and only 298 received any kind of medal. There, our Mistral won a Gold medal and was also the Best In Class and our Sierra won a Silver medal. Of the 700 entries in the New York International Competition only 233 oils received medals. There, the Mistral won a Gold medal and was also the Best in Class and the Sierra also won a Gold Medal.
Our Mistral was the only oil to be awarded Best in Class in both the New York and Los Angeles competitions. It was also the only domestic oil to be awarded Best In Class in New York. Certainly, we thought these oils were excellent even before getting these enthusiastic results. Anyway, we are very pleased to see our efforts of producing top quality oils so highly awarded.
Both the Mistral and the Sierra are extremely rich in antioxidants (837 and 972 ppm respectively), which is way above the average compared to other good extra virgin oils.
This confirms our belief that it is possible to make olive oils that are very beneficial for our health and also have great flavor.
In addition, this year we produced five Gold Series mono varietal oils, of about 50 gallons each, that are equally excellent and especially rich in antioxidants (from 795 to 1,017 ppm).
Apollo Olive Oil will be tasting oils along with Renaissance Vineyard and Grant and Eddie wineries this weekend at the North Sierra Wine Trail. It features 11 different wineries offering an eclectic assortment of wines along the back roads of the North Sierra. There will be varied events along with the tastings at the different wineries including olive oil, delicious appetizers, music, art, and more.
Pre-sale tickets are $20 at www.northsierrawinetrail.com where you can also view the map and all the wineries that are participating.
Every year Biol International in Bari Italy holds a competition for the world’s best organic olive oils. This year the Sierra and Mistral both won Extra Gold medals and the Sierra won the best organic olive oil in the US. Extra Gold medal winners are oils that score especially high in the blind tasting.
This year, because there are so many competitions, we are focusing our entires on the international competitions and the new California State Fair competition. Our goal is not to try to win every possible award but to show well in those competitions where we are going up against the world’s best oils. We are only entering the Sierra and Mistral in competitions this year because our Gold Series oils are made in very small batches and often do not meet the volume requirements.
The limited supplies of our current oils, harvested and milled in December 2013, are now on sale for only $16.95, first come first served. All these mature oils are still showing well – with good aromas, flavors, and a softer finish than in their youth. In a recent blind tasting, our Sierra compared favorably with a fresh, extra virgin “olio nuovo” from another producer – needless to say, we were pleased.
Although we hope you will enjoy our oils right away, they are known for their long life. Our oils stay fresher longer than other extra virgin olive oils because they start with such healthy, high levels of antioxidants, giving them on-going protection against aging. In the past we have retested our year-old oils, and the reduction of antioxidants over the months was only 5%. Another confirmation comes from research Dr. Prokopios Magiatis conducted on the polyphenol levels of US-made oils, published last year. The year-old oils he tested were bought off supermarket shelves; our Sierra included. The total polyphenol content of our oil was higher than every other oil in the experiment, and the results for some particular polyphenols were the highest he had ever recorded.
Dr. Gary Beauchamp is making the rounds these days speaking about his discovery of the oleocanthal molecule that he found in olive oil a short ten years ago. The discovery, like many great discoveries, was an accident. As a sensory chemist he was searching for a way to improve the taste of ibuprofen when he experienced an olive oil tasting. To his surprise he tasted something in the olive oil that had similarities to the taste of ibuprofen. Further research revealed he had discovered the nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory molecule, oleocanthal. Wonderfully, this molecule in olive oil does not have the side effects of ibuprofen. Beauchamp found that oleocanthal can help remove proteins that are the main component of amyloid plaques found in Alzheimer patients. This story reveals that we are still in the early stages of discovering all the great benefits of olive oil that, intuitively, the Mediterranean has known about for thousands of years.
Harvest is in full swing and the outlook for great antioxidant numbers, wonderful aromas, and nuanced flavors is very promising. However there is one exception, for the first time the Barouni crop did not produce sufficient fruit to create a Barouni varietal for next year. This means that once we sell out of this year’s Barouni we will not have it again until 2016. So all you Barouni lovers may want to stock up.
This happenstance is not unusual in the uncertain world of farming. This year the crop of Italy’s highest quality region of Tuscany is down 50% due to unseasonably high temperatures during bloom, unusually wet weather during the growing season encouraging the olive fly, and an unexpected early hail storm during the harvest season. Accordingly bulk prices from Italy are up 50%. Unfortunately, the hardest hit farms were the small high quality producers. For all of you who enjoy buying high quality Italian imported extra virgin olive oil be sure you are getting the real thing this coming year, it will be much more expensive than this past year.
Luckily, we do not anticipate any increases in our prices this coming year.
The Harvard School of Public Health held their “Mediterranean Diet and Workplace Health” conference on September 27 and 28 with attendees from all over the world. One focus was the role healthy fats play in the Mediterranean diet and in particular real extra virgin olive oil. Researchers said they identified two previously unknown polyphenols for the first time while testing Apollo Olive Oil’s array of polyphenols. More research needs to be done to discover what role these two new polyphenols play but it points to the abundance of polyphenols found in Apollo Olive Oil.
The researchers further found that polyphenols were much more effective at reducing LDL oxidation working as a whole rather than working alone. This illustrates that whole foods work more synergistically to produce beneficial effects than extracts of ‘active’ ingredients.
The researchers are trying to develop a simple, quick, and inexpensive test to identify olive oils with high polyphenol levels. One reason for this is that consumers are starting to ask for high polyphenol oils more frequently even though these oils are a bit more bitter and pungent. This is good news for us because we base our entire approach on the healthiest oil is also the best tasting.