Ancient elixir, ritual anointment, symbol of peace, gift from Athena to the Greeks, the olive has been an integral part of life in the eastern Mediterranean since the first stirrings of civilization. In many ways, olive oil is one of the most important agricultural products of Europe and most wineries devote considerable acreage to the beloved olive tree for their own personal use and many for export.
So it is no wonder that one of our favorite Sicilian winemakers, Marco de Grazia of Tenuta Delle Terre Nere, produces an exceptional olive oil that we are very excited to have in the store. Marco's estate occupies prime real estate on the slopes of the famed Mount Etna, the still active volcano producing some of Sicily's most extraordinary wines that we had the privilege of visiting in 2009. The estates has 1,500 trees, many which are centuries old, that are all farmed and cared for organically. Lovingly tended, the olives are hand harvested, cold pressed that same day, with the luscious green/gold oil bottled unfiltered. The volcanic soils give it an almost sweetness, with elegant, spicy pepper notes; pure quality flows from the bottle.
We had the pleasure of Marco's company in the shop a few years ago for an intimate, seated tasting of his wines as well as a few others he is importing. Soft spoken, loquacious and extremely passionate about the region, it was wonderful to hear about his approach to wine making on the Etna, to taste the wines with him and hear his stories about what makes this reason so special and one of the most exciting wine producing regions in the world today. His approach to wine is one of minimal intervention, using certified organic practices, and an almost indiscernible use of oak, allowing the expression of the true character of the wine. In tasting his olive oil, it is obvious that he applies this same careful, thoughtful approach to its production as well.
Olive oil is a daily staple in our home. We use it liberally and as often as we can, often finding excuses to design a dish around it. Having met Marco and visited the wild world of the Etna, this oil is extremely special to us. We have it now, it probably won't be here for long, so if you have an appreciation for this ancient culinary delight, representing generations of farming and centuries of history made by people who truly care, come see us.