A Taste of What’s to Come
By Grace Singleton, Zingerman’s Delicatessen co-managing partner
We always get excited for our first taste of the ‘new harvest’ olive oils. Zingerman’s Delicatessen brings in a limited supply of these extremely fresh new harvest olive oils – also known as olio nuovo or novello – right after they’re pressed. Only weeks old, these are the freshest oils you will get a chance to taste with big, bold flavors that demand to be noticed.
The harvest season always means long days of work, but it’s a joyful time and a celebration of all the people who come together to make it happen, with many shared family meals to help offset the long hours of work. All of this hard work is enveloped by an aura of excitement for the first taste of the year’s harvest. Every season, it’s a treat to see how the past olive season has impacted the flavor of the olive oil and to get a preview of the olive oil harvest that’s coming later in the year, after the oil settles.
Remember, these new olive oils are meant to be enjoyed quickly and with gusto. Each day we wait will mean they get just a tiny bit mellower so carpe diem and bon appetit! Read on for a preview and make sure to visit the Deli for a taste of these big, bold, wildly-flavored oils.
Colonna Early Harvest Oil
Made with Ascolana and Rosciola varieties
This is the first time Zingerman’s will stock an early-harvest oil from Marina Colonna, the same producer who makes Zingerman’s peranzana private label. You may recognize this producer’s name from lemon and orange oils on Zingerman’s shelves.
Marina Colonna inherited the estate in 1996 from her father, don Francesco Colonna, and that’s when extra virgin olive oil came into her life. Today, the Colonna olive groves are treated using natural fertilizers and compost produced on the estate. In the hot summer months the trees are watered with a droplet system, decisive for the survival of the plants and for the optimum development of the fruit.
Enjoy tasting notes from Marina Colonna herself:
“Produced with Ascolana and organic Rosciola varieties, it’s a success. With its deep green color, intense scent of fresh grass, its bitter and spicy taste, this oil was the very first produced early October of the 2019 harvest, immediately bottled to retain its precious drops and its lively fragrance.”
Katz Olio Nuovo
Bright, green and spicy
To give you a preview of this assertive oil, here are the notes on the 2019 harvest straight from Albert Katz.
“We began our 2019 olive harvest November 4th on a cold, clear fall morning with our organically grown trees teeming with fruit this year! After last year’s paltry crop yield, this is a bumper crop year in the making, and we still have much more left to harvest. We anticipate we will be picking and pressing for most of this month with breaks as we wait for each cultivar (variety) to let us know it is time.
In a couple of weeks, I will begin checking all my harvest and tasting notes so we can blend our 2019 KATZ December’s New Oil. We just pressed some bright, green and spicy oil from the Leccino and Frantoio, which is our earliest ripening fruit. Both of these cultivars are very grassy and assertive at this stage and I will certainly be adding this oil to create the robust flavor and spicy ‘kick’ people have come to expect from our olio nuovo.”
TIBVRTINI Olio Novello
Hand-picked, ‘profumissimo’ olive oil
Novello is thick, iridescent and cloudy. It has a fresh and strong olive aroma and taste and is enjoyed during the winter months with fall and winter vegetables, bruschetta and soups.
Novella is the first oil out from the TIBVRTINI growing region and is air-shipped immediately to Los Angeles to fill the Novello pre-orders from our customers. The rest of the oil is put into large tanks to settle and be bottled as the normal extra virgin TIBVRTINI that will be sent over the ocean in the spring.
TIBVRTINI Olive Oil olives are handpicked with a small orange rake known as a Mannucia. The olives are harvested from trees on the ancient land of Villa Adriana, located in the small but exceptional olive growing region near Rome, in the region of Lazio.
Olio Verde Nuovo
A harmony of fruity, spicy and bitter flavors
Each year, the Olio Verde estate extracts an impressive complexity from the Nocellara del Belice olive (also known as Castelvetrano), a prized variety that only grows in Belice Valley area. The Olio Verde estate cold-presses hand-selected still-green olives within hours of harvest. Sergio Rizzo, the frantoiano (olive miller) describes this year’s harvest as, “A well-balanced oil characterized by medium green fruitiness, spiciness, and bitterness in total harmony. A very typical Nocellara del Belice ‘nutty’ flavor.”
Rolando Beramendi, author of Autentico: Cooking Italian, the Authentic Way, and founder of Manicaretti, the Italian fine food importer, offers the following cooking notes:
“Fantastic on grilled fish of any kind such as branzino, orata, tuna or swordfish steaks. The perfect ingredient for baking recipes and delicious over pistachio gelato.”
Castillo de Canena First Day Harvest
Since 1780, the Castillo de Canena estate has produced exceptional oils in the Guadalquivir Valley of Andalucía. The estate’s Family Reserve oils are produced from early-harvest arbequina or picual olives.
To introduce this new harvest olive oil hailing from Andalucia, Spain, I invite you to read a note from Castillo de Canena:
“With our First Day of Harvest we want top an homage to the magic of the first day, when the farmer sees the fruit of a year´s labors. The arbequina and picual varieties of First Day of Harvest oils bring the early harvest concept to full flavor extremes. ”
First Day Arbequina
Is an elegant oil with sweet flavor notes of green grass, green almond, pear and green apple. It finishes with a mild astringency, pepper and a lingering almond flavor.
First Day Picual
is a well-balanced oil with intense green notes of green tomato, green almond, artichoke, banana peel and fig stem, and finishes with aromatic wild herbs.
Bold Green Oil from the Molise
The Il Tratturello comes from the little touristed region of Molise, a couple hours’ drive due east from Rome. It’s produced by the Travaglini family using organic methods. Francesco Travaglini argues that the Molise is an ideal growing region for olives—coldish in the winter; hot in the summer. The olives are all handpicked in the very early autumn (October). Most of Francesco’s trees are older—some as old as five centuries old—which generally means a lower yield but more interesting flavor. Olives are pressed within hours of picking. All of which makes for more intense, complex, compelling, greener-in-flavor, peppery oil of very high quality.
Our importer, Beatrice Ughi of Gustiamo, shared,
“Francesco is young, passionate and knowledgeable. He has his own mill, and this is the third year he is organic. The weather this year was not good for the olives—Francesco had 30 percent less quantity than usual. Because he farms organically, he did the harvest on the 20th of September, while it usually takes place at the end of the first week of October. Why? All signs were telling him that if he waited, the olives would be attacked by parasites. Early harvest, lower yield. But the olive oil is exceptional, with a great personality and tones of fresh-cut grass.”
We say it’s delicious. Green, edgy, catchy, courageous. It’s got a good burst of white pepper—softly spicy and compellingly voluptuous.
Wild, fruity, full flavor with a peppery pop.
Given its humidity, growing organically in Puglia is not easy to do. But a small, notably rocky section of the La Spineta farm is dedicated to organic agriculture. From its olives the Pellegrino family has successfully created one of the few organic oils in the area. Petraia, the name of the oil, means “place of stones,” a tribute to the farm’s rocky soil. Interestingly, trees growing in rocky soil tend to send their roots deeper to reach water, and often produce more flavorful fruit.
The Petraia oil has a big, intense aroma that knocks you back with the smell of freshly cut grass and wild herbs. “It’s very wild,” Elia points out with pride. Its flavor is big, fruity, full. Its finish is significant—lots of the peppery pop that characterizes good Pugliese oils.
Bold, beautiful and unknown. A great value from Puglia.
Pugliese oils get little credit on the international oil scene. The region’s reputation is that of a producer of affordable bulk oils. But hidden in the shadows of the huge industrial producers are artisans like the Pellegrino family. We visited their farm years ago, and we keep coming back to their full-flavored extra virgin olive oil again and again.
La Spineta’s exceptionally big flavor makes it the perfect choice for pairing with spicy foods like red pepper and garlic. And I like to add a little at the last minute to almost any full-flavored pasta dish before I pass it on to the table. If you like an oil with a kick, make this your pick. There’s a nose tingling grassiness that adds a depth of flavor to food. It’s especially good in spicy pasta dishes or any place you want a really robust olive flavor.