Wine and olives have thrived on the same terroir since ancient times, yet while South African wines are the toast of the town, our home-grown olive oils are too often unsung heroes. But local really is lekker, in the case of extra-virgin olive oil. The SA Olive Industry Association ensures high standards and identifies the best of each harvest at the annual SA Olive Awards. Our top extra-virgin olive oils rank with the best internationally, regularly winning in prestigious international competitions such as Flos Olei and the New York International Olive Oil Competition. And last but not least, freshness is key to flavour, so buying close to the source makes much more sense that buying imported oils with an unknown supply chain.
But it’s not just about awards – choosing an extra-virgin olive oil is very much a matter of personal taste, so once you’ve checked for the SA Olive seal of quality, go with your own palate, whether you love intense peppery oils, medium fruity ones or delicate oils that provide a subtle backdrop to other ingredients. Here are five estates to look out for; visit their tasting rooms to discover your favourite “liquid gold”.
Willow Creek near Robertson produces its delicate Nuy Valley, and medium Estate Blend, and its intense Director’s Reserve is a consistent gold award winner both nationally and internationally.
On the Breede River near Worcester, Rio Largo has been a regular gold medallist since 2010, blending Leccino, Frantoio and Coratina olive varieties to make a fine olive oil full of fruity flavour.
In the Klein Karoo outside Oudtshoorn, De Rustica scooped three gold awards in 2015 for its Delicate Press and medium Mountain Press and Frantoio Press oils.
Morgenster in Somerset West has been a leader in the olive oil industry since 1992, when owner Giulio Bertrand first brought in trees and expertise from Italy. Their extra-virgin olive oil has rated among the top in the world for the last 10 years in the Flos Olei awards.
Tokara’s focus on terroir, balance and elegance applies to its olive oil as well as its wines. Their single variety Mission and their Premium blend won gold in the 2015 SA Olive awards.
Taste it for yourself
023 342 5793
Words: Kit Heathcock
082 340 6726
044 241 2177
021 852 1738/083 320 1123
021 808 5900
SA Olive Industry Association