Who are the very best Istrian olive oil producers of 2015?
Olive oil from Istria has been praised since Roman times. There are a handful of quotes used by local tourist guides to emphasize the quality and importance of the liquid for Rome, as well as their own. We’ll skip them altogether because we can’t be sure if the quotes come from gourmets of the time, or from drunk captains, eager to unload their ships from the opposite Adriatic shore in order to sooner do whatever drunk sailors do upon reaching the port.
Be that as it may, today’s olive oil production on the heart shaped peninsula in the Northern Adriatic has little more in common with olive oil production in Roman, and the times of the WW II generation, than the sun, the soil, the tradition and perhaps some DNA traces. Modern olive oil production in Istria began only some 25 years ago, driven by the vision of mostly young enthusiasts and aficionados, commonly referred to as weirdos. Weirdos that (supported by local government) invested their time and means into travel, knowledge, experiments, land … That’s why there aren’t any rich fifth generation olive oil barons in Istria, but well-off middle-aged weirdos. (I’ll recycle this paragraph next week, when I describe the rise of Istrian wine.)
Istrian olive oil has in recent years reached a quality level at which it can compete with olive oil from Italian and other regions inhabited by the barons mentioned above, as the results of one of the most relevant olive oil testing, Flos Olei, show. The publisher of the test Marco Oreggia and his team annually test over 500 olive oil samples and rate them on a scale ranging up to one hundred. The samples come from Italy, Spain, Greece, Croatia (mainly Istria), but also from South Africa, New Zealand, Australia or Argentina and Uruguay. This year the top rated oil reached a score of 98 points, the best Istrian oil earned 97 points. Altogether 56 producers from Istria sent in their olive oil for evaluation. 23 of them earned 90 or more points. This makes Istria the second most successful region of the test, following only Italy’s Tuscany. Below are Istria’s Top 10 for 2015.
Top 10 Istrian Olive Oils 2015 rated by Flos Olei
Olea B.B. (pictured below)
Belci, O.P.G. Matteo
Basiaco, O.P.G. Franco
Zubin, O.P.G. Enio
Negri, O.P.G. William
Note to the above list:
– Some of the producers listed produce a variety of oils. From the list it is not clear which oil from Olea B.B. earned the 97 points. With Chiavalon, for example, it’s clear that the Ex Albis brand earned the 94 points, since the Chiavalon brothers only market named blend of oils.
– Yes, there are 11 oil producers on the list.
We’ll soon be back with more articles on Istrian olive oils and other products. If you happen to speak German, visit us at Inistrien.de.