9California Oil Ranch: USA
These California oils have drawn rave reviews and garnered awards. Why? For one, California EVOOs have lower acidity levels than those with Mediterranean origins (0.2%, compared to ~0.8%). The difference is enough to give a softer mouthfeel and versatility.
Also significant is use of the Arbequina tree, native to the Middle East. It produces beautifully multicolored olives — greens, reds, maroons — and this rainbow of color translates into an olive oil with great versatility and character.
CW carries the Arbequina, the COR, their Chefs Blend, and their Limited Reserve is a delicious and exciting product.
Laudemio, the pride of Tuscany, is an olive oil that ranks among the historic greats. Laudemio cherishes tradition, following the same rules and regulations they did 100 years ago. Only 20-odd estates are still allowed to produce it.
With remarkable depth, peppery flavor and a clean finish, Laudemio distinguishes itself when it comes to finishing oils.
7Frantoia Barbera: Sicily
Frantoia has been processed on the same farms for over a century. It is a multifaceted treasure — beginning with a grassy earthiness, followed by a strong pepper finish that almost bites you, but also with a hint of fruit. In Sicily, growing tomatoes next to olive groves is common practice; the fruity taste present in the EVOO comes from tomatoes sharing that common soil.
Frantoia has enough depth to stand up to flavorful sauces and grilled foods.
6Bel Aria: Sicily
Made primarily from Italian and Tunisian olives (in a 70/30 blend ratio), there’s much to admire in Bel Aria’s EVOO: it has a great color, earthiness in the mouth, a clean finish and hint of pepper that fades. For a finishing oil that will not increase the cost of your plate, the Bel Aria is a step up from Spoleto on the way to premium finishing oils.
5Terre Bormane: Liguria
Finishing | Light
This oil is, hands down, my favorite. It is what I buy and what I use every day. Terre Bormane is simply wonderful in seafood. I’ll even sprinkle it on a baguette or triple cream cheese. But I won’t use it where it will get lost.
The black Taggiasca olive yields a spectacular fluorescent green color. And the delicate filtering process preserves the Terre Bormane’s pristine sweetness. This oil is reminiscent of a great Chardonnay.
4Monini (Fruttato): Umbria
Monini is a famous family name in Europe. To craft their Fruttato, they first hand-pick olives that aren’t quite ‘there’ yet — the young, unripened olive that gives off a hint of fruit. The finished product is fresh and light, and is enhanced by other flavors like tomato and basil, bruschetta. Be mindful that this oil’s delicateness will be lost in a heavy sauce. Allow this oil to be the star of the show.
Most oils in this blend come from the central Italian region of Umbria — hence the name — while Spanish and Tunisian oils are integrated. Spoleto will support a quality sauce and add elegance to your cuisine without hurting your food costs.
Spoleto is a reliable standby that will help chefs succeed, which is our mission at CW. A common flaw of many oils is inconsistency, but with Spoleto you don’t need to worry.
Finishing | Light
This is a unique Greek EVOO made from Kalamata olives. Because Kalamata olives taste different, so does the oil. Variety is the spice of life, of cooking in general, and indeed of olive oils. For the sake of diversity in your oil repertoire, Iliada is a valuable one to have on the shelf.
Watching beautiful green oil come from jet black Kalamata olives is a lovely sight. Its flavor is soft and delicate, with a mild pepper finish that doesn’t overpower. And for nuanced Greek cuisine it is simply a must.
1Vista Del Sol: Spain
Spanish Tapas Style
We don’t have many Spanish EVOOs in our CW arsenal…yet. But Spain is producing some wonderful oils, and this is a good one: a moderate acidity table oil for Tapas-style dining, and of course, Paella.
So, which EVOOs are right for you? Pay attention to your application, your ingredients, your culinary goal, the origin of your cuisine. Be mindful of your budget. And rest assured that from our worldly selection, it’s hard to go wrong.
Extra virgin olive oil is indispensable to the professional chef. But with an EVOO portfolio as expansive as CW’s, knowing where to begin can be a challenge. Flavor profiles range from subtle to assertive, with many steps in-between. So which EVOO do we choose?
Mike Behan, an EVOO connoisseur and CW’s Director of Specialty Sales for Ohio, reminds us that a chef needs more than one EVOO in his or her arsenal.
“You run into chefs that say, ‘this is the only extra virgin I use’. As a sommelier I would never consider having just one wine; there are different types that come from different areas with different flavor profiles and they all have their different applications,” Behan said. “You need your sturdy work-horse extra virgin for your dressings and primary functions, then your blended oil with a low-smoke point for cooking, and lastly your finishing oil for your chef signature.”
With dozens of EVOOs to review, we decide to organize our discussion by origin, beginning with esteemed extra virgins produced right here in the United States.
Learn about all our EVOOs at CWmag.com/EVOO