French olive oil has recently become available to the American
market. Olive oil is the liquid gold of Provence and is the
only region of France where it is produced. Like wine, the flavors of olive
oil reflect the soils and climates in which the olives are grown. And, further
more, olive oils have their grand crus and their exceptional years. French
olive oil is known for its elegance, refinement, complexity and subtlety,
making it a rare and precious commodity. Unlike Spain, which produces 970,000
tons of olive oil annually, and Italy, producing 420,000 tons, the French
production of olive oil is only 2,400 tons and harvested by hand. Production
is increasing annually with the increased planting of trees every year.
Most extra-virgin, first cold pressed olive oils have an Appellation d’Origine
Controle (AOC) certificate, guaranteeing specific yield and production standards
set by the Institut National d’Appellation d’Origine. The AOC certificate
assures that the olives are grown in France and the olive oil is produced
in France, respecting certain criteria, such as density of plantation, harvesting
methods, size minimums, and preparation without the use of chemicals or
artificial preservatives. The yield and production of the total area must
be declared to the Institut, so as to assure that no olive oil from other
areas is added. In order to obtain the certificate of approval, every plot
is subject to analyses and tastings before production.
The different tastes of olive oil are derived from a variety of factors:
the type of olive, the soil, the amount of sunlight, when the olives are
harvested and production methods. Generally speaking, French oils are not
bitter because of the varietals themselves and because the olives are picked
when they are ripe.
What to expect when tasting a French olive
oil: A sensuous, refined, subtle oil, soft, fruity, never bitter with
an exceptionally low acidity. Production has been small and we expect
it to remain so for some time.
Lydie Marshall, who was once named the best cooking teacher in New York
by Mimi Sheraton, Food Editor of The New York Times, and now owns Chez
Lydie en Provence cooking school in Nyons, France, likes to serve a tossed
green salad with croutons made from bread rubbed with garlic and soaked
in olive oil from Nyons. For a light lunch, eggs cooked sunny side up
in olive oil are then deglazed with wine vinegar and served with a salad.
She also serves raspberries marinated in verbena tea and tossed with a
very small amount of olive oil - very refreshing! If vinegar is to be
combined with the olive oil for a dressing, it is suggested that a light
vinegar be used to experience the subtle flavor of the oil.
If you would like to purchase
French Olive Oil Contact:
Francesca de Bardin - 212-679-4674
EMail: [email protected]
300 East 34th Street
New York, NY 10016