Tasting is learning, not only experiencing. A place is a taste you will remember for years, maybe because it was your first experience or maybe because people you met shared it with you . So was for me about the oil. I had always heard about Brisighella dop oil, but never ever could imagine it was such a technical stuff.
Terra del Sole, the ideal town
A friend of mine told me about a man who was one of the best producers of the region, so I decided to call him up in november, to know something more about the “Olio Novello” (new oil coming up after the first pressing of the olives).
The place is in the hills of Terra del Sole (Heliopoli, a little town built by Cosimo I de Medici in XVIth century to defend the Tuscan Romagna. This land was very troubled at the time, at war every single day against the lords who did not bear Florence!) This year Terra del Sole will celebrate her 450 year of living and it’s rally the right time to have a visit of the fortress and the surroundings.
Unfortunately, nowadays, the street which passes through this little fortress does not allow to see the perfect structure of this main human piece of architecture.
Brisighella, the town of oil
Through a lateral street, I went up and up until I saw a descending wineyard with a romantic and colourful view of autumn. No sound around, just four deers standing gazing and than running away! Gianluca, the owner of Tenuta Pennita, is waiting for me.
The oil mill is very different from what I have ever imagined: just a few tubes, cylinders and grinders with a lot of noise. Well, you know what? It is not the way of milling the olives, it is the way of handling them when they arrive, that counts!
They must be pressed immediately at their arrival and everything dipends from the quality, the ripening point and the place where the olive trees are.
People are gathering together, waiting in silence, talking about their doubts about what kind of oil they will obtain after one year of work, and then something happens, the green gold comes out. All around a keen and bitter smell of artichoke, this is the main smell of Brisighella oil!
But the oil story begins not so far from here, in Brisighella, an enchanted borough in the hills of Faenza: there the ground is a chalky one and that is the main reason of this excellent oil production. Olive trees here found in the centuries a special place to grow. And please do not imagine the sweet hills of Tuscany. Visiting an olive grove is a real adventure: steep hillsides where it’s real difficult to walk, imagine how hard it can be the harvesting. Gianluca, the man of the mill, told me that this activity is still man dependant and the all place must be covered by fixed nets to avoid olives run down and lost.
Coming back from Brisighella to the mill, I really feel like I’m a real super expert about oil, ready for the taste experience. Well, I thought, it won’t be very different from tasting wine! But I was wrong. Gianluca guided me through the “risucchio” technique which is the right one to really enjoy oil tasting. No bread or food are allowed in this moment.
First you have to take the blue littel glasses in your hand and warm it, it will take some minutes to get the right temperature. The you start smelling to understand the basic scent of it. In this case it was really artichokes like. Ok, now you are ready to drink oil: put a little bit on your lips and then push it in the lateral sides of your mouth, making a sucking like noise. Do not let it go to your throat, but let the smell go directly to your nose. And here you are! Thanks Gianluca, a real good job!
All the photos taken at Tenuta Pennita, Terra del Sole