Di Karen Phillips (testo e foto)
Walking through Taurasi’s centro storico last weekend, I was introduced to Azienda Agricola Maria Ianniciello where owner Antonio Minichiello, his daughter Ilaria, and Angelo Lo Conte from Slow Food condotta Irpinia Taurasi Colline dell’Ufita walked me through my first guided oil tasting.

In Irpinia, the olive king is the variety Ravece which recently received the DOP classification. Other two varieties that the company produces are Ogliarola and Olivella.

Before we began, the tasting process was explained to me as follows:

1) I needed to place my hands on under the small cup which contained the oil with one hand and cover the top of the cup with the other.

2) Rotating both hands, I needed to warm the oil using my body temperature. This did not require too much effort due to the temperature that warm August Sunday.

3) Next, a procedure similar to a wine tasting, I needed to smell the oil and identify what aromas I noted.

4) Then…taste. This was done by putting a teaspoon size quantity in my mouth between my lower lip and teeth. Then…clench my teeth and breathe in a couple of times. This would help the oil to vaporize in my mouth so that I could use my taste buds to really taste the oil.

Three oils…three examinations.

Olivella di Grottaminarda: This had a nice aroma where besides olives; I noticed a light scent of almonds. The aftertaste was bitter and spicy and I learned that this was very important in oil. It meant that it has a good quantity of antioxidants and carbolic acid. This oil would be perfect to use when making tomato based sauce, drizzled on cooked vegetables, fish or salads to name a few dishes.

Ogliarola: This one’s aroma was also pleasant, mild and all olive with a light hint of almonds and artichoke. Once again, that spicy piccante feeling in my throat—sign of high quality. Their brochure recommends this oil to be drizzled on dishes to highlight but not cover their flavor. So…perfect for fish, pastas with ‘white’ sauce, or white meat to name a couple.

Ravece DOP: Intense aroma. Instantly I was reminded of bruschetta. This was due to the noticeable fragrance of tomatoes…typical of this variety. Spicy, piccante aftertaste. Excellent for bruschetta or drizzled on a bean soup or grilled vegetables.

‘Formal’ oil tasting completed…The next thing left to do was get a good piece of bread…drizzle on some olive oil…and enjoy!!

Azienda Agricola Maria Ianniciello
c.da Barricella, 65 Grottaminarda (Av) 0825 446003 mariaianniciello@virgilio.it