‘Olio Nuovo’ is now being served

2005 olive oil is being scarcer, and more expensive

Editorial Staff
November 17, 2005

The first chills of November not only mark the arrival of winter but also signal olive harvest time in Tuscany and throughout Italy. Mid-month, “olio nuovo,” or new oil, already lines supermarkets shelves and graces restaurant tables. Olive oil lovers (which includes most everyone in Italy) are always eager to get that first taste of the freshly pressed oil.


In Tuscany, harvesters begin picking olives around the last week of October and work well into the month of November, and sometimes even through the beginning of December. Olive mills, or frantoi, are open around the clock to get all of the olives pressed in a timely fashion. 


This year’s oil has been deemed excellent by organisations like the national association Città dell’Olio. Oil from the Tuscany area is generally characterised by its bright green colour, strong peppery taste, and slightly fruity aroma. Unfortunately for consumers, however, the 2005 harvest is considerably smaller than it is on average, which means that olive oil prices will be somewhat higher this year. A litre of oil direct from the producer should cost between 7 and 9 euros, while shops will sell a litre for about 10 euros. Experts warn consumers to watch out for offers that sound too good to be true. There are many tricks of the trade, and it is wise to always check the provenance of the oil before purchase, as well as its colour, odour, and taste, if possible.


For those who can’t get enough of new oil, there are several festivals and fairs celebrating what is one of the most important food crops from this region. A nationwide festival will also be held on November 27, during which frantoi will open their doors to the public and allow visitors to taste the new oil as soon as it is pressed. For more information on these events, go to Top Picks, page 9 and Food & Wine page 21.

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