The Provincial View
When determining the overall quality and relative value of olive oil where the olive oil is produced tends to be the most overrated and overemphasized variable. Other far more important variables such as ripeness at harvest, span of time between harvest and milling, temperature used for extraction, and storage methods, if not done correctly, render the location of the grove meaningless. Appellation is primarily a marketing device used to create value and status.
Preoccupation with origin has given rise to the current situation where Italy is both the largest importer and exporter of olive oil in the world leading to the widespread practice of claiming exceptional quality and status where none exists.
From the tiny region of Tuscany flows a virtual river of olive oil surpassed in volume only by the miracle of the loaves and the fishes. High quality olive oil can be produced in Tuscany but it will be rare compared to mass produced, commercially blended oils. The best way to understand the relative value of where an olive oil is produced is to blind taste, all in one sitting, many different varieties from many regions. Then one can begin to understand and appreciate several variables that determine the overall quality and value of olive oil.
Argentina, Australia, California, Greece, Spain, Tunisia, Turkey, Syria, and Morocco offer wonderful, unique oils are being produced annually. It is our belief that the unsung oils of the world will one day be as to consumers as coffees or wine varietals. Our advice is to have as many authentic olive oil experiences as possible. There is no substitute for personal experience. If you trust your own educated aesthetic sensibility, there is no right or wrong answer when it comes to your individual preference taste.