It’s not every day you get to buy a craft product from a family business in Spain that started up a thousand years ago. Their farmland is known as the Perales de Valdueza Estate, and was first worked by the family—formally known as the House of Álvarez de Toledo—in 1624. Fadrique Álvarez de Toledo, who leads the family business today, is the 13th generation to carry the work forward.
They utilize sustainable farming techniques like rewilding and permaculture and are active members of the European Landowners Organization (ELO wildlife estates) which is “committed to promoting a sustainable and prosperous countryside and to increasing awareness relating to environmental and agricultural issues.” Throughout the years they’ve continued to evolve, expanding their products and modernizing their facilities, but their rich sense of tradition and commitment to the environment hasn’t wavered. As Fadrique told us,
The connection we have with the land and our implication and commitment to the local community has made our estate a landmark for the region. We believe that, if our products are good, it is made possible to a great degree by the land and community that have become an intimate part of my family’s history and present-day activity, both culturally and economically.
That commitment to the land and their local community comes through in their products, like the olive oil, vinegar and honey that we carry.
A Trifecta of Excellence
Marqués de Valdueza Olive Oil
This exceptional olive oil is made from a unique blend of four different varietals that grow on the farm—Hojiblanca, Picual, Arbequina, and the rare and unique to the region, Morisca. The trees are grown with much wider row spacing than most of the huge commercial farms that have been planted in the southern part of the country. As John Cancilla, who has worked with the family for decades now, explains, “This allows the wind to pass freely through the trees, reducing pests, and the roots to spread naturally without being piled on top of the root system of the surrounding trees.”
Harvesting is done early in the autumn (the yields are significantly lower, but the flavor of the oil is far more interesting), and the olives are all carefully picked by hand. The result is a smooth and balanced oil with nutty butteriness and spice notes. We look forward to the new harvest each year when it arrives on our shelves.
How to use it:
The Valdueza oil is best used to finish a dish like fresh fish and sautéed vegetables. Or in a summer salad with fruit. We love it on bread (like Paesano or Rustic Italian from the Bakehouse) and salads, too. Or, for something a little different, drizzle it on vanilla gelato from the Creamery and top it off with a twist of Tellicherry black pepper.
Marqués de Valdueza Red Wine Vinegar
Their estate has 400 years of wine-making history! In 2007, Fadrique decided to reserve 3000 liters of juice from their Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Syrah grapes to make vinegar in the traditional, Orléans method. After an initial fermentation in stainless steel tanks, the vinegar starter is transferred to four-year-old French oak barrels to age for a minimum of 20 months.
They released the first batch of Marqués de Valdueza red wine vinegar in 2012, and to this day, only a few hundred liters are released annually. (We consider ourselves lucky to be able to carry it!) Of the vinegar’s flavor Fadrique says, “The vinegar is a sparkling clean, honey-orange color with an intense and complex aroma of vanilla, fennel, and licorice, rounded with a touch of almond and a citrus finish reminiscent of freshly peeled grapefruit.”
How to use it:
This is the perfect finishing vinegar for a variety of hot and cold dishes.Try it on local greens, fresh fruit, or in a vinaigrette. Drizzle a few drops to brighten up your soups or tomato sauces. Ari suggests that you try it with “anchovies or on a salad with blue cheese and walnuts.”
Marqués de Valdueza Holm Oak Honey
Since 1624, beekeeping has been an important part of crop pollination at Marqués de Valdueza. Their Holm oak honey is a very rare honey that comes from the same Ávila oaks that feed the Marqués’ Iberian pigs. It’s a dark amber honey with deep rich floral, malty and toasted flavors.
How to use it:
It’s ideal for pairing with meats, dried nuts, blue cheese and spiced roasts. (Also, check our 7 favorite ways to enjoy varietal honeys.)
PS—if you’re as big of a Marqués de Valdueza fan as we are, you can pick up one of our hand painted posters of their products!
From Merida, Spain to Ann Arbor, Michigan
We’re able to carry these products from Marqués de Valdueza thanks to Roger’s Collection. Not to be confused with our managing partner, Roger Bowser, and his collection of bikes, Rodger’s Collection is an importer of extraordinary foods from sustainable producers that they know and love. They’ve traveled the world for nearly 30 years in search of these authentic, artisanal, and absolutely delicious products (often handmade using traditional methods), from the U.S., southern Europe, the Middle East and Africa. They ferry those flavors across oceans, countries, and time zones so we can all enjoy the olive oils, grains, jams, vinegars, cheese, charcuterie and more.