Olive Lore

7 Best Italian Extra Virgin Olive Oils to Buy in 2023

Italian olive oil holds a distinguished position in the culinary world, celebrated for its exceptional taste, aroma, and health benefits. Its versatility in cooking and its ability to elevate the simplest of dishes have earned it a spot in the kitchens of both home cooks and Michelin-starred chefs. The olive tree’s cultural significance in Italy, combined with the diverse landscapes that support a wide range of olive varieties, create an unparalleled tapestry of flavors within each bottle of Italian EVOO.

This article sets out to explore the multifaceted importance of Italian EVOO in the culinary realm. From its rich historical heritage to the intricacies of production and tasting, we delve into the factors that contribute to its esteemed reputation. Furthermore, we will showcase some of the finest Italian EVOOs, originating from different regions of the country, and highlight their unique characteristics and merits. Whether you are a seasoned food enthusiast or an aspiring gastronome, embarking on a journey through the world of Italian EVOO promises to be an enlightening and mouthwatering experience. So, let us embrace the essence of this liquid gold and discover why Italian EVOO remains an enduring symbol of excellence in the world of food and gastronomy.

The Tradition and Heritage of Italian Olive Oil

Italy’s deep-rooted association with olive oil stretches back through the annals of history, intertwining with its cultural, economic, and gastronomic identity. The olive tree, regarded as a symbol of peace, prosperity, and longevity, has held a special place in the hearts of Italians for millennia. The tradition of olive oil production in Italy is a testament to the country’s agricultural prowess and a testament to the cherished artisanship that has been passed down through generations.

Historical Significance of Olive Oil Production in Italy

The cultivation of olive trees and the extraction of olive oil date back to ancient civilizations that flourished on the Italian peninsula.

From the ancient Etruscans to the Romans, olive oil played a vital role in daily life, becoming an indispensable commodity and even a form of currency. Its use extended beyond the kitchen; it was employed in religious rituals, medicinal practices, and as a source of light.

With time, olive oil production techniques evolved, incorporating wisdom from various cultures, and transforming the process into the craft we recognize today.

Diverse Olive Varieties and Their Regional Characteristics

Italy’s diverse landscapes, ranging from the rolling hills of Tuscany to the sun-drenched coasts of Sicily, provide an ideal environment for growing a multitude of olive varieties.

Each region boasts unique soil compositions and microclimates that influence the taste and aroma of the resulting EVOO. Olive cultivars such as Frantoio, Leccino, and Moraiolo thrive in central Italy, while Nocellara del Belice and Cerasuola flourish in the south.

The distinct characteristics of these olives give rise to a captivating array of EVOOs, each one a reflection of its terroir.

Traditional Olive Oil Production Methods in Italy

Preserving the time-honored traditions, many Italian olive oil producers continue to employ traditional methods in their craft.

The harvest season, typically occurring from October to December, marks a moment of great importance. Hand-picking the olives at the perfect stage of ripeness ensures the highest quality of EVOO.

Following the harvest, the olives are milled using granite or stone presses to avoid altering the oil’s flavor profile with excessive heat. Cold-pressing, a gentle extraction process, safeguards the delicate nuances of the olives, resulting in the finest EVOOs.

List of the 7 best Italian Extra Virgin Olive Oils to buy in 2023

So, how is the list of the best Italian EVOO’s conducted? We wanted to find the most versatile oils, which also yielded good value for the money. Olive oil can truly be expensive, but it actually doesn’t have to in order to be tasty and healthy.

All olive oils in this list have been tasted.

Our criteria has been as follows:

  • Known cultivar(s) and origin of the olives used
  • Harvested by handpicking
  • Cold pressed
  • Bottled responsibly
  • Affordable
  • Versatile

1. Frantoi Cutrera Cold Pressed Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Cold pressed extra virgin olive oil from Frantoi Cutrera in Italy.

With its exquisite green color adorned with golden reflections, this olive oil is intensely fruity and boasts elegant, spicy notes reminiscent of fresh green tomatoes.

You’ll notice delightful hints of balsamic herbs and sweet almond, a unique characteristic derived from the finest Tonda Iblea olives used exclusively in its production. The result is a harmonious blend of sweet, bitter, and spicy elements, guaranteed to elevate the flavors of any dish it graces.

In the kitchen, Primo shines as the perfect complement to a wide array of delicious and bold dishes. Whether you’re roasting meat or fish, grilling savory cuts, preparing salads, or simmering a comforting minestrone soup, this olive oil will enhance the culinary experience like never before.

Crafted from the early green harvest of organic Tonda Iblea olives, Primo undergoes a cold extraction process to preserve its unparalleled quality. Within a mere six hours of being picked, the olives are expertly cold-pressed, ensuring that every drop retains the utmost freshness and flavor.

Originating from the picturesque Chiaramonte Gulfi region in southern Sicily, Primo has garnered prestigious awards for its exceptional taste and quality. Don’t miss the chance to savor this award-winning olive oil, as it promises to bring out the best in your dishes and leave a lasting impression on your taste buds. Experience the culinary wonders of Primo – an olive oil truly deserving of international acclaim.

Taste profile and sensory characteristics

Full-bodied, with bitter and spicy well-balanced notes, artichoke and oregano

Medium fruity intensity with pronounced notes of artichoke, freshly cut grass, green almond, and red tomato

Vareiety Origin
Tonda Iblea
Chiaramonte Gulfi, Sicily

What is Frantoi Cutrera Cold Pressed Extra Virgin Olive Oil best for?

2. Papa Vince Extra Virgin Olive Oil

The olive oil is made from organic olives grown locally without pesticides, additives, coloring, insecticides, or herbicides, ensuring an authentic and pure product. It boasts a high polyphenol content of 420 mg/kg at the time of bottling, along with significant levels of vitamin E (20% DV) and vitamin K (6% DV), making it a healthy choice.

Due to the unique growing conditions in Sicily, similar to the harsh deserts of Morocco, the olive trees produce fruit with naturally higher polyphenols and vitamins. These nutrients, including Hydroxytyrosol and Oleocanthal, can neutralize free radicals, offering evident health benefits.

The nutritional panel lists both vitamin E and vitamin K, making it one of the few olive oil brands to do so. This demonstrates the family’s commitment to providing healthy and beneficial extra virgin olive oil.

The olive oil is versatile and can be drizzled over various foods, including salads, pasta, meat, vegetables, dips, soups, marinades, and bread, bringing a flavor explosion to every dish. It is also suitable for keto, Whole 30, vegan, as well as detox diets.

Taste profile and sensory characteristics

Full-bodied, with bitter and spicy well-balanced notes, artichoke and oregano

Medium fruity intensity with pronounced notes of artichoke, freshly cut grass, green almond, and red tomato

Vareiety Origin
Noccellara
Trapani, Sicily

What is Papa Vince Olive Oil best for?

3. VIRGEEN

Boasting 420,7 mg/kg of polyphenols, this award-winning Extra Virgin Olive Oil from Tuscan VIRGEEN is a superior addition to your diet.

Made from premium, hand-harvested olive trees (Leccino, Moraiolo, Frantoiano and Pendolino), cold-pressed within 4 hours to preserve its powerful phenolic properties, this limited edition, additive-free EVOO is a true gem with only 3,800 liters produced each year.

The high altitude fields of the VIRGEEN farm, exposed to the absence of water in summer and extreme climate conditions in winter, stress our ancient trees, resulting in an abundance of polyphenols, hydrotyrosol, oleuropein, and Vitamin E. This unique composition of micro-constituents and antioxidant molecules sets this oil apart.

The oil comes elegantly packaged, complete with Italian EVOO recipes, instructions for perfect use, and conservation tips, all thoughtfully wrapped in eco-friendly recycled paper.

Taste profile and sensory characteristics

Smooth and peppery fresh taste.

Vareiety Origin
Leccino, Moraiolo, Frantoiano and Pendolino
Tuscany

What is VIRGEEN Olive Oil best for?

4. Olio di Mino

Indulge in the goodness of Olio di Mino’s extra virgin olive oil, where quality meets taste, and well-being becomes a way of life. Elevate your culinary journey and embrace a healthier lifestyle with every drop of this exceptional olive oil.

Embracing sustainability and eco-friendliness, Olio di Mino’s olive groves thrive without any chemicals, respecting the natural biodiversity and morphological features of the lands of Sicily. This mindful cultivation process has earned the company prestigious quality certifications as a BIO and IGP producer, guaranteeing you the finest and most genuine olive oil.

See more: https://oliodimino.it/en/

Taste profile and sensory characteristics

Green fruity herbaceous notes, with hints of tomato, almond, apple and leaf; soft and rounded on the palate. Medium pungently.

Vareiety Origin Intensity
Biancolilla
Sicily
Medium

What is Olio di Mino Olive Oil best for?

5. Frantoio Agostini - Ascolana Tenera

Nestled at the base of the Aso Valley, embraced by the majestic Sibillini Mountains and the Adriatic Sea, the olive groves thrive in a pristine environment, where the air is refreshingly pure, and the climate provides the ideal conditions for cultivating olives.

The Agostini Oil Mill goes back to 1945, when Alfredo Agostini took on the ancient craftsmanship of olive oil production and made it in to a family business. Since then the business has passed for generations, and today we see the result of decades of dedication. A true lore!

View more: https://www.frantoioagostini.com/en/

Taste profile and sensory characteristics

As you take in the aroma, you’ll be greeted by a powerful and embracing scent, brimming with aromatic hints of herbs, accompanied by distinct notes of refreshing mint and basil.

On the palate, a captivating complexity unfolds, revealing a rich fruitiness with delightful notes of medium ripe tomato, apple, and unripe banana, elegantly enhanced by tones of lettuce and celery. The taste experience is further elevated by a well-pronounced presence of bitterness and spiciness.

Cultivar(s) Origin Intensity
Ascolana tenera
Marche
Medium

What is Frantoio Agostini – Ascolana Tenera Olive Oil best for?

6. Tenuta Masciangelo - Maria

From the patient hand-picking of olives from centuries-old trees to the rigorous selection process that ensures only the finest olives make the cut, the Maria oil embodies a tradition of uncompromising quality.

Maria comprises a blend of exceptional olive varieties, including Gentile di Chieti, Bella di Cerignola, Frantoio, Caninese, and Ascolana, contributing to its unique character.

The journey of Maria begins in early to mid-October, ensuring optimum weather conditions for the harvest. Olives are tenderly handpicked and meticulously checked, separating any imperfections. The crushing process is of utmost importance, preserving the essence of the olives and maintaining a cold extraction below 27°C, resulting in a balanced and harmonious oil. The pressing must be accomplished within a remarkably short span of 35-40 minutes.

See more: https://tenutamasciangelo.com 

Taste profile and sensory characteristics

Experience a medium-intensity herbaceous fruitiness, complemented by delightful floral scents, green almond, peas, and asparagus. The enticing aroma captivates the senses, offering a harmonious blend of nature’s finest.

A gentle touch of spice adds a perfect balance, harmonizing with a medium bitterness that lingers momentarily. The flavor profile is a symphony of delight, with the aftertaste revealing the essence of broad beans and peas, leaving a pleasant sensation of green almond notes. Savor every moment of this exquisite and harmonious taste experience.

Cultivar(s) Origin Intensity
Gentile di chieti, Bella di Cerignola Frantoio, Caninese, Ascolana
Abruzzo
Medium

What is VIRGEEN Olive Oil best for?

7. Tenute Cristiano - Bio organic

Crafted with utmost care, the Bio Organic is created exclusively during the first week of harvest, which happens from the beginning of October to mid-November. Each olive is handpicked to ensure the utmost quality, still green and in the initial stages of ripening. This meticulous approach guarantees an abundance of aromatic and phenolic substances, resulting in exceptional flavor and quality for our extra virgin olive oil.

Taste profile and sensory characteristics

Delight your palate with a remarkable sensory experience. The Bio Organic boasts a prominent fruitiness, coupled with pronounced bitterness and pungency, leading to a satisfying aftertaste reminiscent of radicchio, fresh walnut, chicory, and almond.

Cultivar(s) Origin Intensity
Coratina, Carolea
Calabria
Medium

What is Tenute Cristiano – Bio organic Olive Oil best for?