It generally means that the acidity of the oil is below 1%. But it doesn't really say how this level has been reached…In many regions in Italy, people take great care of how they make olive oil. They collect the olives and then process them very soon obtaining a natural low acidity oil which of course, can be denominated "Extra virgin".
In many other countries like Spain, Greece, Morocco, they keep the olives for quite a long time before processing them, as the production is very big and there are not enough mills. The olives "heat" and the acidity grow to 20% and more.
But the E.U. allows a chemical processing of the oil which lower the acidity, in order to obtain the below 1% level.
So that oil can also be called "Extra virgin".
Of course so many vitamins of the oil get washed away by the chemical process and also the flavour changes enormously, but still, to a buyer, there seems to be no difference in between one oil and another.
The difference is surely there instead and people should be aware of it and also should be able to understand why there is often a big difference of price in between different oils.
In Montali for example, the oil which we sell, is cold-processed within few days from collection and we generally reach a natural acidity of 0,3%.
1) The best oil comes from a grove where there is quite a big mixture of different olive plants. We have planted a majority of "Frantoio and Leccino" plants, which are the best producing in our area, but there is a 20% of plants from around 10 different species of olive, in order to enhance the "Fruttato" or the flavour of the oil and increase pollination.
2) One big problem for olive oil making is given by what the latin were calling the "Dacus Olea" (the fly of the olive). That is a small fly which makes larva inside the pulp of the olives and consequently giving a typical bitter taste to the oil itself.
The fly lives in wind protected areas ,like the Trasimeno Lake side.
Montali, as a hilltop, is a pretty windy place. This characteristic do not allow the fly to live as they get blown away by the wind. Therefore we have the luck to produce an oil which do not have this kind of problem .
3) Like for grape, olive likes a rocky soil. Of course in softer and more fertile soils, the production is always bigger, but the best quality of olive oil is produced in poor and stony areas. Again, as a hilltop, Montali has very little soil, being just a big bank of rock everywhere. Our olive production is therefore relatively small, but organolectically speaking, we may say that the quality of the oil is outstanding and bearing that particular smell and taste which makes a big difference in between oils.
We though to let you know all those things, in order to be able to better understand in the future, what "Extra virgin olive oil" may means .
We are happy to say that we have done a big "Energy upgrading" work, with extended solar panels on the new car park cover, which will take full profit of the east-west facing location and italian sun.
Therefore we should be able to run the whole Hotel in a very fuel saving way, with no pollution and no petrol and elettricity consumption. "O sole mio"!!!