Italianissimo! The Olive Oil

Flos Olei 2012, a guide to the world’s best extra virgin olive oils, writes that Pruneti is a synonym of high quality. I am eager to taste for myself, and run up the stairs to the second floor tasting room that overlooks their lands. Four generations of the family have been cultivating the olive trees on this land in San Polo in the Chianti region.

Today, there are 22,500 trees, an oil mill complete with chain storage and bottling facility. Approximately 40,000 litres of organic olive oil is extracted once a year in this state of the art plant. Paulo and Gionni Pruneti carry on the family tradition and bottle three varietals and one blend. The secondary crops are fi elds of gorgeous purple iris, used in the perfume industry, and saffron. The proof is in the tasting. Pruneti Silver Label “Tradizione” and Pruneti Gold Label Monocultivar have unique elements and top notes. They each have a lightness and strength. Fresh and verdant, fruity, grassy and peppery and yes, indeed, they are exceptional.

In Umbria, we stop in Spello and visit Mario Ciampetti, who inherited his land and the mill from his grandfather. He cultivates the small Moraiolo olive that grows on the mountainside and he has modified his machine to the speed of the grinding stone, extracting the oil slowly thereby making a less acidic flavour.

While he is an unassuming and self-effacing man, his olive oil, Terre Rosse, is a superstar. USDA Organic, Biological, Biodynamic, Kosher and the first in Umbria to attain a DOP designation. His 2,500-bottle production is small, and each bottle is stamped with the date of production and the best before date. On a visit to California, he delivered a bottle to the renowned Alice Waters, and it was much appreciated. “In this world of chaos and confusion,” he says, “the certification of Terre Rosse speaks for itself.”

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