Dievole's blog

How to make an award winning extra virgin olive oil

Dievole formed its extravirgin olive oil division in 2014 and quickly became an important player in the world of premium Italian EVOO. In 2014, when white fly and bad weather decimated production in Tuscany, we began partnering early in the season with olive growers in the Basilicata and Puglia regions, but pressing in Tuscany under stringent regulations. In 2015 and 2016, nature blessed us with abundance in all our growing locations, and we were able to make six different varieties of olive oil. 2017 was a hot and dry summer, which impacted the characteristics of the resulting oils slightly, yet we still have created a quality line of five olive oils. Wishing to bring out the best in each territory, we’ve been making monocultivars, olive oils from single olive types that each have their own characteristics. And on a world-wide level, we’re pleased to say that our oils have been recognised with numerous prizes. But what goes into making an award winning extra virgin olive oil? For us, it can be broken down into four steps: nature, people, technology and transparency.

Nature, the first step towards an award winning extra virgin olive oil

Dievole's Olive Groves

Dievole formed its extravirgin olive oil division in 2014 and quickly became an important player in the world of premium Italian EVOO. 

It seems obvious, but nature is what provides us in primis with our olive trees and the olive bounty; nature that needs to be respected in every way. Dievole wine is produced through sustainable agriculture, and so is our olive oil. No chemicals are used in the fields or in any other part of the process.

Nature is, in some ways, a matter of luck. The property that belongs to Dievole has long been used for the production of wine, agriculture and olive oil, clearly because this land is excellent for this purpose. In the past century, the area has been recognized as being part of Chianti Classico territory, so the leccino, frantoio and moraiolo varieties of olives that we grow on the property can become DOP Chianti Classico extra virgin olive oil.

Other areas of Italy are also excellent for olive growth and provide different varieties, so we work with groves in Basilicata, Puglia and Sicily in order to access olives particular to those regions, like coratina and nocellara. In Tuscany, the Maremma area yields some lovely olives that are different from those we cultivate here in the Chianti Classico area. When we grow olives in these areas, off our own property, we manage and treat the land as if it were our own, in a sustainable manner and with close controls to ensure excellence.

People

The production of olive oil is labour intensive. On one hand you do have to sit back and wait for things to grow, but on the other hand, you want to monitor the trees constantly for infestations, and when it comes to harvest season, you work around the clock, picking by hand and against time.

But it’s not just the hard labour that makes an award-winning extra virgin olive oil, it’s the experience and brain of the people in charge. Matteo Giusti heads up Olio di Dievole convinced by the quality of the primary material. Years of experience but also passion guide Matteo towards the right choices for production, as well as in the perfect blending of flavours for Dievole’s blended extra virgins, like the 100% Italiano, favoured by numerous chefs for its exquisite balance.

Technology

Olives in the mill at Dievole

Olives in the mill at Dievole

 

A good olive oil comes from nature, it’s true. You don’t want to mess with what comes naturally. But a small amount of technology can help preserve that goodness and make the best of what nature gives us.

There’s no secret in what we do and how we do it. One important thing is that, when we pick olives down south or here in Tuscany, we transport them immediately, and each day, to our press here in Tuscany (recently constructed in Pianella along the SS408 Chianti road). We do this by a refrigerated truck at the end of the day, and press the same night. This ensures that the newly picked olives do not “sweat” and begin to oxidize while waiting to be pressed, and it’s one of the top ways we ensure quality.

The press itself is also designed to minimize oxidation. Our extra virgin olive oil is of course cold pressed, only once, and carefully filtered to remove impurities. In order to avoid contact with air, at the end of the process, the extra virgin olive oil is stored in stainless steel vats, sheltered from light at temperatures below 22°C. Afterwards, it is vacuum-bottled – only upon order. The bottle used reduces the impact of UV-ray penetration by 97%.

Transparency

Almost ripe olives on the tree

Almost ripe olives on the tree

The olive oil world has suffered lately from a lack of transparency, and we don’t mean that cannot see through the liquid… Transparency means being clear about where your product comes from and what’s in it.

If you look at our website, you’ll see a list of our olive oils, and it’s clearly stated where each oil comes from. Each production batch has its own ID card, guaranteeing absolute traceability. We were one of the first producers in North-Central Italy to use olives from the South and proudly state it, making the best of one of the excellence of that area.

During olive harvest season, if you follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, you’ll frequently see photos of us picking olives. You can see how we work, and where. You’re welcome to visit us at our property in Tuscany at any time and see our olive groves (as well as the vineyards – and stay for a tasting of our award-winning extra virgin olive oil and wine!).

Our olive oil tasting kit