2023 Harvest and Tasting Notes
- Varieties Selected: 75% Arbosana / 25% Ascolano
Harvest: Late November 2023
- Aroma: Bold. Floral notes. Fresh and green.
Flavor: Audacious. Arugula bitterness with green apple.
Finish: Pungent. Long lasting and harmonious with lingering complexity.
Polyphenols: 333 mg/kg
The Ascolano in this blend is an excellent example of newly harvested extra virgin olive oil, brighter and greener than our signature Ascolano's sweet and mild flavor, and slightly less aromatic. The second variety is Arbosana, and the lot selected is truly superlative to all other oils I've tasted this season. As a result, I've adjusted the blend to make Arbosana the dominant variety with Ascolano taking a supporting role as a way to add complexity while also softening and slightly mellowing the boldness of the Arbosana's flavor and finish.
Be aware that this oil may not be for everyone. Consumed directly from the tasting glass, this oil is audacious. It is bold and unapologetic about being a green and pungent new oil. Please see my pairing suggestions below.
The herbaceous flavor is arugula-like, bitter and astringent. The pungency is pronounced with a noticeable catch in the soft palate and throat ending with an exceptionally long finish that keeps on giving. As I tasted and re-tasted this blend I enjoyed and appreciated the subtle flavors that emerged and lingered. The aroma is pronounced with a pleasing floral and green freshness and subtle ripe notes of stone fruit, once again noticeable at the finish.
Oils that are this fresh and robust are best enjoyed with the simplest unadorned foods. Plain bread, rice, potatoes, or pasta.
If you're adverse to too many carbohydrates, enjoy this on simply prepared meats or very mild fruits and vegetables (I would not, for instance, recommend using this oil on bitter greens!). I imagine that this would be outstanding on tuna sashimi with a bit of sea salt taking the place of wasabi and shoyu.
These mild or bland foods will do much to highlight positive fruity aromas and flavors and reduce the sensation of bitterness, especially with the introduction of sea salt. Salt has a well documented chemical interaction with food resulting in mitigating bitter compounds.
Flavor & Enjoyment
Regardless of olive variety or varieties chosen, Olio Novello's characteristics include bright green flavors, high aroma, and a thicker consistency due to the presence of olive flesh which has not been removed. Best consumed fresh, and traditionally enjoyed on toasted bread with sea salt.
To truly enjoy this oil I recommend no vinegar with your bread; let the flavor of the olives come through. If you'd like to be utterly authentic and you have a fire pit, you can replicate what small Italian farmers do at the local community mill: toast some rustic bread over the fire, liberally douse with the new oil and a sprinkle of salt, and raise a nice glass of Italian vino da tavola to another harvest year and to good health.
About Olio Novello
Each fall the first oils of the year are eagerly sampled to select one or more superior examples to represent Olio Novello, our New Oil. Much like the tradition of enjoying Beaujolais Nouveau young wine in November, Olio Novello celebrates the new harvest with extra virgin olive oil which has not been filtered nor has it been racked of sediment.
Some companies refer to new oil as Olio Nuovo, however, since my olive oil roots are Florentine, I refer to this oil as it was introduced to me: "Olio Novello". In any event, it is not Olio Nuevo. "Olio" is Italian for oil, "nuevo" is Spanish for new; the Spanish use the Arab derivation for oil "al zeit", literally "the oil". In Spain new oil is Aceite Nuevo.
Regarding the photos
The photos of olives and fresh oils in the mills shown are from the Williams 160 orchard and Lucero Olive Mill a few years ago and are for inspirational purposes for representation. Despite what our instincts tell us, there is not a direct correlation between olive oil color and flavor. I've illustrated two oils, thick and fresh from the mill from harvests past, and although wildly different in color, both were very bright, highly aromatic and pungent oils.
The photos of bread feature a freshly baked country loaf from a friend. Read about the Quest for Bread in our collection of stories and serving ideas section "Convivial Conversation".
29 November Update: I have finalized a workbench sample of this year's blend. We're still on schedule to blend the batch, then bottle, label, transport to the distribution center, and be ready to ship to you on or before December 11th.
23 November: The blend this year will be mostly Ascolano with a second olive variety added for more green complexity. Preorders will be activated after Thanksgiving Dinner and shipped December 11th.
20 November: Still harvesting. Still milling. Rain slowed things down for an already late harvest year. Blending not completed as of today. Release looks likely the week after Thanksgiving.
19 September: California is looking at a delayed harvest this year. Bloom was between 2 and 3 weeks later than average, and although the fruit is sizing nicely, the oil content is much too low to produce olive oil at this time. Fingers crossed for a bottling in time for your Thanksgiving Table.
A new "preorder" feature will be activated after Thanksgiving Dinner. IMPORTANT: Please note that any item placed at the same time as any preorder will ship together with the preorder after December 11th with the exception of olive trees which ship directly from the nursery.