Excerpt from Ari’s Top 5 enews
Beautiful biodynamic offering from southern Tuscany
Podere Forte, founded by Pasquale Forte in 1997, is one of many models on our very long vendor list who does sustainable work well; the Podere has been farmed biodynamically pretty much since the beginning. South of Sienna, east and a bit north of Grosseto, it’s a beautiful place. The estate includes a botanical garden that’s home to over 1700 varieties of plants.
Like the Morgenster olive oil, this is not a small, boot-strapped project. Signore Forte made his fortune in other work, but in the spirit of compost and compassion he wanted to put a piece of his profits back into the land. The first olives at Podere Forte were harvested in the year 2000, with a blend of Frantoio, Leccino, Moraiolo and Seggiano. He drew on two-thousand-year-old Roman farming practices, applied the biodynamic farming principles Rudolf Steiner first put forward in 1924 in the fields, and then a series of high-tech innovations to care for the oil after pressing. As Signor Forte says, “We work the fields as 2000 years ago and in the cellar, we are 200 years ahead.” Explaining further, he adds:
Although biodynamic theories may seem arcane, lying somewhere between philosophy and magic, the farming practices are very ‘practical’ and the objectives concrete: support nature in its seasonal processes and make the land ever more fertile. Even the ultimate goal is compatible with straightforward common sense: provide healthy foods to nourish people and guarantee the continuity of the ecosystem.
Signor Forte sees himself as the conductor of the farm’s orchestra of animals, plants, sheep and soil: “Respect for the environment is not only an investment in quality and health, but also a guarantee for the future and a factor of sustainability for the generations to come. The aim is to create products based on a balanced relationship for every living being affected by the work cycle.” To that end, they’re also raising old breeds, like Chianina beef, Sutton sheep, and Cinta Senesi hogs.
The key thing is the oil itself is exceptionally flavorful—bold, with a good bit of “black pepper” in the finish, and smooth in the front. It has a fruit-forward aroma, and a big flavor that hints of green grass, artichoke, and green tomato—all the classic Tuscan flavor components. Great on salads, bruschetta, or steak. Super tasty on a salad of bitter fall greens—arugula, escarole, and the like. Really good for roasting local celery. It’s truly delicious! It’s a beautiful oil.