EVOO from Tuscany with Cumbrian Sourdough Bread
You may recall that two wines from Tenuta di Ghizzano in the Terre di Pisa area of Tuscany were chosen as my Wines of the Year 2022, while their other wines are also terrific. Hence a tasting of their Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO) was long overdue.
The Estate comprises 283 hectares, of which 150 are natural woods and poplar groves. Their entire arable farm has been Biodynamic since 2018 and organic since 2008. Hence their vines, cereals and olives are certified by Demeter. There are 100 ha of grains, 18 ha of vineyards, and 15 ha of olives. Durum Wheat and Emmer are made into their range of pasta, while Spelt and Chickpeas sell as grain.
As for those olive trees, all are autochthonous Tuscan cultivars, occupying nine plots at around 200 meters altitude. They benefit from a benign climate moderated by sea breezes.
Tenuta di Ghizzano to make three examples of EVOO. As we’ll see in this comparative tasting, each EVOO offers variations in scent, flavour, and culinary uses.
A Bread Plate
My favourite way to compare different EVOOs is simply by pouring each oil onto a plate in turn and mopping it up with the best bread you can find. This makes a great starter or even a meal in itself. Hence, these three EVOO examples were paired with fresh Sourdough Bread baked by Lovingly Artisan, who use only organic heritage grains. They make many styles of sourdough bread, and their baguettes are ideal for a Bread Plate. I’m fortunate indeed that this bakery is close to my home.
So now follows a comparison of these three Tuscan EVOOs, complimented by great sourdough bread from the Lake District. I think both parties would approve; despite their differences, they have much in common!
The Three Oils
Il Classico, EVOO, 2022
The Classic is a blend of varieties; 55% Frantoio, 20% Razzo, 20% Leccino and 5% Moraiolo, all native to Tuscany. That complex blend potentially offers the most versatility of the three oils. Yellow-green, with dominant scents and flavours of grass and green apple, with a little almond and attractive peppery bitterness on the long finish. One suited for green salads and soft Italian cheeses like Burrata and mozzarella.
Price €8.00 for 250 ml or €15.00 for 500 ml.
The name means destoned. This is a blend of 90% Razzo with 10% Leccino. The key difference here is destoning (pitting) the olives before pressing. Usually, olives are pressed with their stones intact. However, olives can be destoned before pressing (adding another machine process and cost). Recent Italian Research (well worth reading) strongly suggests that removing the olive stones before pressing is a win-win, improving EVOO quality and environmental sustainability.
Perhaps this method shows in this oil. It’s emerald green with bold pepper spice, basil and celery scents. These are reprised on the palate with mown grass and almonds. With the most viscosity and pungency of the three oils, this is the one for drizzling onto soups, grilled meats, roasted vegetables and salumi/charcuterie.
Price €8.50 for 250 ml, or €16.50 for 500 ml.
Il Monovarietale Razzo, EVOO, 2022
Il Monovarietale is 100% Razzo. This single-variety oil is pale golden-yellow with subtle artichoke, tomato leaf and hay scents. Those scents appear again on the palate, bound by a green grassy freshness and a long slow fade. There’s not the viscosity, pungency or peppery spice of the other oils. Instead, it’s finer, lighter and more delicate. Perhaps this subtle oil is best with seafood and fish. Artichoke or pea risotto is a definite hit.
Price €9.00 for 250 ml.
Q: Which EVOO is best? A: Whichever one is on your bread plate! All these oils are of excellent quality, so “best” is about personal preference and intentions for use rather than measuring absolute quality. For me, it’s Il Denocciolato, but only by the slenderest of margins.
Don’t worry if you can’t get to Tuscany (or Cumbria, for that matter). All these products are available online – check out their websites below. Sourdough bread from Lovingly Artisan is also at Booth’s in Kendal, Kendal Farmers Market, and Altrincham markets.
Via della Chiesa Ghizzano, 19
56037 Ghizzano (PI)
Plumgarth’s Lakeland Food Park