EVOO Information

Optimum, California Extra Virgin Olive Oil

The Cacciatore Family is pleased to present Optimum, the unique California Extra Virgin Olive Oil, obtained by blending 21 Varieties of Italian Olives.

The Optimum project became a reality after 12 years of dedication in growing, harvesting, pressing and blending.  It started in 1997 when Vincenzo selected in Italy some of the most ancient varieties with the goal of obtaining a noble, fragrant and elegant Extra Virgin Olive Oil.  He imported to California the olive trees from different nurseries of different Italian regions and in 1998 he established the olive grove along our East & West DeGraaf Vineyards.

Beneficial Health Effects  Olive oil, a prime component of the Mediterranean Diet, is the greatest exponent of monounsaturated fat.  Olive oil is a natural juice, which preserves the taste, aroma, vitamins and properties of the olive fruit and it is the only vegetable oil that you can consume as it is: untreated, unfiltered…just freshly pressed from the fruit! The beneficial health effects of olive oil are due to both its high content of monounsaturated fatty acids and its high content of antioxidant substances. Studies have shown that olive oil offers protection against heart disease by controlling LDL (“bad”) cholesterol levels while raising HDL (“good”) levels.  No other naturally produced oil has as large an amount of monounsaturated as olive oil – mainly oleic acid.  Olive oil is also very well tolerated by the stomach.  In fact, olive oil’s protective function has a beneficial effect on ulcers and gastritis.  Olive oil activates the secretion of bile and pancreatic hormones much more naturally that prescribed drugs.  Consequently, it lowers the incidence of gallstone formation.

Below is the listing of the varieties that make up Optimum. The difference in the colour reflects a difference in the taste and in the flavours. 

Sant’Agostino.  This large sized olive cultivar finds its origins in Puglia;  it can be dark green colour as a table olive or dark violet when used to produce olive oil.  The olive is oval shaped and is remarkable for the quantity of meat and the quality of the flesh.  The oil has a very mild-salty flavour achieved from its light brine.

Nocellara MessineseIt grows in the northeast of Sicily, and in Calabria (south of Italy).  The olives are ovoid-shaped, usually big size.  The olives ripen mid-September to mid-October.  The content in oil is about 26% and because of the high yield, most of producers consider it a “blender”.

Itrana.  It is a cultivar grown in Lazio area (central Italy).  It produces round, medium-sized olives suitable to make both table olives and oil.  Harvest happens when the olives are deep purple.  It has a good yield of 20 to 22% oil.  The oil is mild, with citrus notes.

Lucca.  University of California developed this cultivar.  It is a high yielding variety, which usually serves to compensate the low yield of other varieties.  The harvest of the Lucca olives is usually from early November through mid-December.  The oil has an intense sensation of sweetness with a hint of spiciness and a golden yellow with green reflections.

Pendolino.  It is a traditional variety in Tuscany and Umbria regions.  Pendolino olives are suitable for both table and oil production.  They vary from green to black (table olives).  They are small to medium-sized for oil grown with a yield of 20 up to 25%.  The oil is a good quality; the colour is a light green, with a light purple blush, slightly spicy.

CoratinaIt is a native to Puglia.  It also grows in Molise, a region of the south Italy.  Harvest starts when the olives start to turn black at the tip.  The fruit ripens from November to December.  The fruit is medium-sized and oval.  Yield in oil is 21- to 26%.  Coratina produces very high quality oil with high levels of phenols (antioxidants) which make it harsh and it needs time to soften.  Thanks to the phenols, it is very stable and has a strong peppery flavour.

Ogliarola.  The origin of Ogliarola is Puglia.  The cultivar matures from mid-October to the end of November.  The fruit is green to purplish-black in colour and has a medium-small weight.  Yield in oil is 20 to 25%.  The oil if fruity with a persistent spicy flavour and notes of bitter (almonds), tomatoes and apples.

Pasola de Andria.  The origin of the variety is not quite clear.  It has been cultivated for many centuries in the regions of Puglia and Basilicata (Lucania).  It is a cultivar mostly known for being a table olive variety for his attitude in giving to the fruit a “sweet”taste.  Olives are dark, black with reddish tint:  “Nero Vinoso” in Italian (black-winey colour).  The oil yield is high (26%).  The oil has a medium-light fruity flavour, mild in the taste with light notes of spicy.

Cima di Melfi.  Its origin is in the vulture area, Campania.  The drupe (fruit) is oval and elongated, slightly asymmetrical.  Late ripening cultivar, the olive turns into a black colour.  The average oil yield is 18 to 20%.  The oil is of optimum quality: green colour with yellow tonalities, flavours of artichoke and almond and a very piquant taste that gives to it a unique character.

Leccino.  Its origins are in Tuscany and central regions of Italy.  Ovoid shape olive, at ripening the colour tuns into black.  The oil is of excellent quality, more delicate than Frantoio.  The colour is gold-yellow, with light green nuances.  The taste is intense and rich, in which a slight bitter and peppery taste balances flavours of vegetables (mint, basil and artichoke) and sweet almond at the end.

Frantoio.  It is the primary variety used in Tuscan oil production.  The variety also makes a good table olive after curing.  Olives at maturation become black violet colour.  The oil has a dark green colour with gold reflexes.  The taste is rich and wide; it has a bitter and piquant, with clear taste of artichoke leaf, fresh vegetables, marjoram and rosemary.

OliastroAll modern olive trees descend from this ancient olive, originally called Oleastro.  A thousand-year-old tree still stands near Jerusalem.  In Abruzzo, a few rare Olivastro trees, hundreds of year old, still bear fruit.  These olives produce little oil, but what they do yield is extraordinary.  When olives start changing their colour from green to bluish-purplish, but before they turn black, is the ideal time to harvest them, as they reach the peak of their flavour.  The oil is rich in flavours and aroma, mild and fruity.

Cipressino.  Cipressino tree is native to Puglia in the “heel” of Italy.  The tee produces black olives during mid-November through mid-December.  The olives make a fine, light olive oil.

Toscanina The origin is in around Bari and Brindisi area (Puglia); however, is not so widely cultivated because of the low yield.  In fact, the average oil yield is 12 – 18%.  The oil is yellow-green, fruity, slightly bitter, accompanied from a persistent good piquant, with pleasant sensations of herb and tomato.

Cellina di Nardo.  It grows in Puglia, particularly in the province of Lecce.  Are medium-sized olives, grown for both oil and table olives.  When harvested for table olives, they ripen on the tree until the become black.  When grown for oil, the harvest occurs when still green.  The oil has good body and a fresh smell.

Termite di Bitetto.  It’s diffused especially in the territory of Bitetto (Puglia).  The olive is spherical, slightly asymmetrical.  The darkening, as the ripening, is precocious and it happens in the month of September.  Olives are of a straw-green colour when they are harvested for table consumption; for oil production assumes a bluish-black colour.  It’s characterized from a pulpy, of light colour in depth, red-winey in the external layer.  The oil production is nearly in medium about to 16.5%.  The oil is yellow-green colour, slightly bitter and piquant taste.

Picholine.  It’s origin is supposed to be South France and North Africa.  It is also known as the “cocktail olive”.  The harvest occurs between October and November, while still green, for us as table olives.  For oil production, the picking happens later, once they have turned dark green.  The exact time of harvest for oil is based on the judgement for the individual farmer; an early harvest gives a fruity taste, while a later harvest brings out more sweetness.  The oil results to be a difficult extraction (below 18%).  It has an intense green colour, strong taste, accompanied from a good piquant, with notes of green tomatoes.

Nolca.  The origin is in the province of Bari (puglia),  The fruit is spherical, large and with a heavy black coloured peel; the pulp is soft and light colour with shades of red wine in the outer layers.  It ripens in late September or early October.  The oil yield is average (20%).  The oil is green colour and very mild.

Carolea.  It grows in Calabria, Italy, and in the area of Enna, Sicily.  Medium to large size olives, growers use it for both oil and table olives.  It has a yield of 10 to 25% in oil.  The oil is good quality: yellow with green tonalities, fruitiness of apple, almond and artichoke; the taste is lightly bitter, with notes of herbs and spices.

Simone.  It is located sporadically in the olive groves of the provinces of Bari and Brindisi (Puglia).  The average oil yield is very low (15 to 18%).  The oil production is of high quality, with an intense fruity flavour of fresh herbs and tomatoes.

Nociara.  It is typical of the provinces of Taranto, Bari and Brindisi (Puglia). Early in the season the olives are a very pal-green; at ripening they turn into a red-magenta colour (making the trees particularly attractive) and becoming a dark-violet at full maturation.  The average oil yield is (15-20%). The oil is of optimum quality, gold colour with green reflexes.  The taste is strong but pleasant, in which flavours of vegetables (herbs, pepper and tomatoes) are married with a slight bitter and spicy aftertaste.


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