Iconic color, unmistakable fragrance: olive oil is a key ingredient that can enhance any dish. Its production has its roots in antiquity and creates a bridge between past and future, a connection that holds together ancient knowledge and modern agricultural techniques. This product has always embodied the most authentic essence of a territory and tells of the unmistakable magic that is renewed every year. To breathe the atmosphere that revolves around olive oil and its production phases, we immerse ourselves in the olive groves of the splendid Montecorona estate. We are between Todi, Assisi and Perugia, where this agricultural reality extends over a land of 30 hectares cultivated with monocone. Frantoio, Leccino and Muraiolo: the history of the olive oil of the Montecorona estate is linked to these three varieties from which two qualities of olive oil are produced. To tell us about the early harvest and the 2022 vintage, we had a chat with Stefano Belvisi, agronomist and manager of the Estate.
The flavors of olive oil: when early harvesting makes the difference
We ask Belvisi what vintage it was and how it characterized the product of 2022. The Montecorona manager explains that, although the summer season was mainly dry, with a couple of important rains only at the end of August, the expectations on the product were immediately very high: it may seem a paradox, but in reality it is not: "The high temperatures protected the olive trees from attacks by flies, preventing them from reproducing: this allowed us to significantly reduce chemical interventions. Moreover, the excellent state of health of the plants has allowed most of the flowers to go into fertilization, which is why we can be particularly satisfied with this year's production".
If yield and product quality are strictly connected to the climatic conditions that occur during the vegetative phase of the plant, another fundamental element, which helps to determine the aromatic characteristics, is the timing of harvest, often different according to the various cultivars: "The Frantoio and Leccino variety olives best express harmonies and aromas if cut at the beginning of October, in the same way - explains Belvisi - Muraiolo, when it is not too ripe, promises a very high quality olive oil.
That's why we started earlier this year: the goal was to produce a superior quality olive oil, able to meet the taste of connoisseurs. Early harvest,for us, represents an unprecedented experience, we had never done it before, despite the fact that it has been a practice for many companies for some years. We decided to try it because ours is already a very intense olive oil, it releases very pronounced aromas and flavors, such as bitter and spicy: picking the fruit a little earlier, not only these characteristics improve, but remain unchanged over time".
This ability to preserve its characterizing elements unaltered, typical of fine olive oils, is one of the distinctive features of Montecorona's productions, as Belvisi explains to us, in fact: "The analyzes carried out on last season's olive oils reveal that the level of polyphenols is still very high and this is synonymous with great quality: since these organic compounds are present in greater quantities in the product of the 2022 season, we expect the quality to improve further within six or seven months ".
As the manager of Montecorona explains, this result is strictly connected to the type of processing and the conservation techniques used: “The olives are processed within five or six hours of harvesting. Once arrived from the mills, the olive oil is placed in steel tanks and stored under nitrogen at a controlled temperature. Then, after about 10-20 days, we do a first filtering operation to eliminate the solid parts or some residual components and put the product back into the steel tank. At this point we dedicate ourselves to the blends: after various tests and tastings we define the composition of our extra virgin olive oil".
Tasting the new olive oil
November is the right month to taste new olive oil: an ancient ritual that is renewed and which gives the opportunity to rediscover a timeless fragrance. This is the ideal time to take a break from everyday life and visit the splendid Montecorona estate: here, it is possible to taste the DOP Umbria Colli del Trasimeno. As Belvisi explains: "This olive oil, which receives certification through the Umbrian Agri-food Technology Park, is our flagship product and goes alongside a line of extra virgin olive oil that we blend from mono-varietals".
In addition to getting in touch with a centuries-old tradition, those arriving at the Estate also have the opportunity to spend a magical autumn weekend staying in the elegant rooms of the Badia and savoring the authentic taste of the territory thanks to the culinary proposal of the restaurant "Abbazia di Montecorona". A unique experience, to be combined with a mini tour of the surroundings, perhaps following the Via Francigena.
Montecorona olive oil is a distillate of tradition, flavors and territory: are you ready to find out?