Yesterday we were privileged in my office to be offered an exclusive tasting of a 2003 cuvée of olive oil from Corsica. (Given my current condition, wine tastings are sadly off the menu as I find spitting to be both immoral and unladylike...) My colleague Anne brought in two bottles of olive oil produced by her brother David in Corsica. We have been hearing about this olive oil for some time from Anne, and I, for one, was very eager to try it.
This is not my first brush with the grand world of oleiculture: about a year ago, our friend Sam started dabbling in a small way in olive oil production with the help of his family back in Australia. Sam gave me a tiny bottle of his first batch and I husbanded it carefully, only using it on salads in order to let the full fruity flavour shine through. When I complimented Sam on the flavour, he modestly explained that the newer the olive oil, the better the flavour. Whatever. I thought it was great.
So I had all this in mind when Anne proposed a tasting for us.
The day came and Anne brought in not one, but TWO bottles of olive oil for us to sample. This is the first time I have seen the variety of olive displayed on a bottle of oil. Maybe it has always been there, but I have never noticed. She told us that David produces four different varieties of olive oil, but sadly she didn't have all four to hand. (Lucky for her, I say, as it must have been a pain to carry them in on the metro anyway!) At lunch time, Anne bought a baguette as a vehicle for the oil and we were all set.
The first oil I tasted was made from the picholine variety of olives. It had a beautiful peppery flavour that set it apart from the olive oil I usually use in my cooking. It might be a bit strong for a bland salad, but on ripe tomatoes or grilled vegetables I think it would be delicious. On bread alone, I could have devoured a cup of it. According to my research, the picholine variety can be green or black, but the black is most commonly used for oil production.
The second oil came from the Greek koroneiki variety of grapes. This bottle had more sediment floating in it, but had a more subtle flavour than the picholine variety. I found it was similar to the olive oil I buy from the local supermarket, albeit still much more flavourful. From my extensive web research, I have concluded that koroneiki olives are dark purple, ranging to black.
According to the Santa Cruz Olive Tree Nursery, both varieties produce well in dry warm climates and are resistant to drought. This is presumably why they are doing so well on the island of Corsica which has a hot dry climate. Both the oils are virgin and cold-pressed; I can also confirm that they are absolutely delicious when dribbled over a small piece of baguette. You wouldn't think that it would take a whole baguette to taste a little oil (there were about six of us) but we kept going back for more. The only down side is that Anne was a little vague on how to get hold of the oil here in Paris and what the cost might be. Two of us were definitely interested in purchasing a few bottles, so she is going to ask her brother.
However, if you happen to be in Corsica and want to stop by and taste the oil yourself I am sure you would be welcome. David sells the oil locally and to the public at a small shop on his property:
David BICHON, oleiculteur
Phone: +33 4 95 61 54 15
Tell him you were sent by friends of his sister Anne - it will bring a smile to his face!