Extra Virgin Olive Oils Cultivars - Italy
Ascolana is a cultivar from which an excellent quality EVO oil is obtained, a variety widespread especially throughout the province of Ascoli Piceno. The cultivar is characterized by large and fleshy drupes, which makes them a must-have for their use in the kitchen. It has a late ripening and the olive oil yield production is medium. The typical Ascolana-based EVO oil is characterized by herbaceous notes, and a light tomato scent.
Biancolilla (also known as Bianca, Bianchetto and Biancolina) is considered one of the oldest Italian olive cultivars. The name Biancolilla comes from the color of the drupes, which during veraison changes from a very light green to purple. Most commonly, Biancolilla gives its EVOOs a delicate fruity flavor, combined with hints of almond, artichoke and tomato.
The Sardinian cultivar of Bosana is one of the most cultivated varieties across the whole island, but it can be especially found in the central-northern area of the island, around Sassari and in the surroundings of Oristano. Bosana is also used as table olive, but it is in the Sardinia PDO that expresses its best qualities, its elegant and characteristic notes of bitterness and pungency.
Carboncella – also known as Carbonchia, Caravogna, Carbognola or Carbonella – is a cultivar which can be widely found in the Abruzzo and Marche regions. Carboncella-based EVO oils usually show medium bitterness and spicy intensities.
Carolea is a widespread cultivar in Southern Italy, especially in Calabria. Carolea is characterized by medium oil yield production, and its EVO oils are known to express apple, almond, and artichoke hints of flavours. Carolea olives are also used as table olives.
Cassanese is a Calabrian cultivar, also known as Oliva Grossa di Cassano thanks to the large size of its fruits. Its fruits ripen late and the yield in olive oil production is medium / high. Olive oils made from this variety are characterized by hints of artichoke, almond, tomato and aromatic herbs.
Castiglionese is a typical autochthonous Abruzzo cultivar which can be found in the very restricted area of the Fino river valley, taking its name from the town of Castiglione Messer Raimondo. This cultivar confers vegetable notes to its EVOOs, and an equilibrate bitterness and pungency which makes this cultivar perfect to go with a wide variety of dishes.
Cerasuola is one of the most ancient Sicilian cultivars, mainly found in the western part of the region (Trapani and Palermo areas); it displays a peculiarity which makes this cultivar perfect for the Sicilian territory: its high resistance to dryness and to nutrient-poor soils. Cerasuola is characterized by a high productivity, and it usually confers its EVO oils flavour notes of grass, artichoke and tomato.
Coratina is an olive cultivar typical of Apulia (Puglia). It’s one of the cultivars with the highest concentration of polyphenols, organic molecules with natural antioxidant characteristics, which confers the oil its strong bitter and pungent notes. Coratina’s EVOOs are also featured by a reduced acid content.
Dritta is a typical olive variety of Abruzzo mainly found in the area of the “Gold Triangle” – Pianella, Moscufo and Loreto Aprutino. Dritta has constant productivity, the maturation of the olives is medium/early, and it guarantees a high yield of olive oil production. Dritta’s olive oils are characterized by high quality, medium fruity notes of almonds, grass and artichoke, and medium/intense bitterness and pungency.
The Favolosa cultivar, and its FS-17 clone in particular, is obtained from the selection of seeds of the Frantoio cultivar; as of today, its cultivation is spreading fast, as it has shown high resistance to the Xylella parasite, which is decimating crops in Southern Italy. FS-17 EVO oils are rich in vegetable scents and polyphenols, which give its EVOOs excellent bitter and pungency sensations.
Frantoio is one of the most popular Italian cultivars in the Peninsula and abroad. The Frantoio olive confers EVO oils qualitative notes of bitterness and pungency, and thanks to those characteristics it is easily pairable with different typologies of food. In Italy, Frantoio is mainly found in Tuscany (almost surely its native land), Umbria, Lazio, Abruzzo and Marche. Frantoio is a late-ripening olive tree and has constant productivity.
The Giarraffa cultivar is a Sicilian speciality with a very ancient origin dating back to a few centuries before Christ. live oils made with Giarraffa have characteristic scents of green almond, artichoke and green tomato, with hints of fruit or leaves balanced by a medium-low bitterness and a pungency sensation.
Itrana, also known as “Oliva di Gaeta”, is a typical olive variety from Lazio. Itrana is a very late ripening olive tree, and its olives are widely used as table olives in brine. Itrana is the main cultivar of the Colline Pontine PDO EVO oils (Itrana 50 to 100%, Frantoio and Leccino cultivars 50% max, others 10% max). Itrana expresses green vegetables scents, and a characteristic green tomato tone.
Leccio del Corno
The Leccio del Corno cultivar is an olive variety which originated in Tuscany and then spread especially throughout the regions of central Italy; its name comes from that of its area of origin: it was in fact first found in the province of Florence, at Corno farm. Leccio del Corno ripens late, and it has a medium yield in olive oil production; its olive oils are characterized by green almond and artichoke notes of flavours
Leccino, together with Frantoio and Moraiolo, is one of the main Italian cultivars and can be mainly found in central and southern Italian regions. The Leccino tree is particularly indicated for mechanical harvesting, as its drupes detach easily from the branches. During veraison the polyphenols content is quite important, thus conferring equilibrated bitterness and pungency notes to Leccino’s EVO oils.
The Majatica di Ferrandina cultivar takes its name from the city in which it is mainly found, Ferrandina. Over the years, the fruits of this cultivar have been mainly used as black table olives. Today, Majatica di Ferrandina is widely used for the production of olive oils; its tree is characterized by partial self-sterility, late and gradual ripening of its fruits, and fairly high yield in olive oil production.
Mignola is an olive variety mainly grown in the Marche region, in central Italy; it is also known as Sanguinella, Carbonella, Laurina, and Sargana. Mignola is a self-sterile cultivar, so it needs other varieties which act as pollinators to produce its fruit; it shows medium resistance to cold temperature, but low to fly-carried diseases. Mignola’s olives are characterized by fairly early ripening and a medium-high oil yield; its EVO oils have marked bitterness and pungency sensations, and are characterized by green vegetable notes of flavours and a delicate scent of berries.
Moraiolo is widespread in Italy, with its major qualitative expression to be found in the central regions of Umbria, Toscana, Lazio and Abruzzo. It is used in EVOO monocultivar or either in blend, to confer accentuated bitterness and pungency (which are due to its high presence of polyphenols) and medium-intense fruity notes to any olive oil.
Nera di Colletorto
Oliva nera di Colletorto is an autochthonous cultivar of Molise which takes its name from one of the cities where it is mainly cultivated; its olive trees shows good resistance to olive trees’ most common diseases and climate adversities. Oliva Nera di Colletorto olive oils have typical flavour notes of green olives and artichoke.
Nocellara del Belice is an autochthonous Sicilian cultivar known for its EVO oils but also for table consumption of its olives (Nocellara del Belice olives are also a DOP product). Nocellara EVOOs have medium intensity and are rich in vegetal notes of flavour (almonds, green tomatoes and artichoke) and aromatic tones.
Nocellara Etnea is a typical Sicilian cultivar also known as Augghialora, Paturnisa and Tortorella. It is mainly found in the areas around the Etna volcano. Nocellara Etnea is an auto-sterile cultivar, and so needs to be pollinated by other cultivars (i.e. Biancolilla and Moresca). Nocellara Etnea typically confers its EVOOs green tomato, herb, almond, thistle and artichoke flavours.
Oliva Bianca di Pollica
Oliva Bianca di Pollica is a typical cultivar from Campania, mainly found in the municipalities of Pollica and Casal Velino. The name Oliva Bianca (white olive) comes from a peculiar characteristic of its olive – during veraison, first it turns white, then it finally becomes purple. The tree is resistant to the peacock eye disease, to droughts and to saltiness, and its fruit is characterized by a medium yield in olive oil production.
The Ogliarola Barese is the most widespread cultivar in the Bari area, in particular around the village of Bitonto, also known as “the city of olive trees”. Ogliarola Barese olives are characterized by an early ripening and a particularly high yield in olive oil production; this cultivar gives its olive oils delicate vegetable aromas.
The Ogliarola Messinese is an autochthonous Sicilian cultivar, which can be mainly found in the provinces of Palermo and Messina; it is also known as Messinese, Terminese, Raffu and Castrense. Ogliarola Messinese olives are widely used as table olives. Ogliarola Messinese gives its EVOOs aromas of freshly cut grass, almond and artichoke.
Ortice is an olive cultivar particularly widespread in the Benevento area, in Campania. Its olives can also be consumed as table olives, but today they are mainly used for the production of EVO oils which characteristically have distinctive vegetable flavours of grass, almond, tomato leaf and olive leaf in them, as well as other various aromatic scents.
Ottobratica is an olive which can be found widely in Calabria, especially in the Tyrrhenian coast of the region; it is also known as Dolce, Mirtoleo and Ottobratico. Ottobratica has good resistance to drought, humidity and strong temperature change. Ottobratica ripens early (which is why it is called Ottobratica, as its olives are harvested in October). Ottobratica olive oils are characterized by bitterness and vegetable scent flavours.
The Pendolino variety is very popular in Italy: today it is cultivated throughout the whole peninsula, also thanks to its role as pollinator. Its olive trees are characterized by a high yield in the production of olive oil and by a medium ripening period. Pendolino gives its olive oil delicate hints of almond, and slight bitterness and pungency sensations.
Peranzana is a typical Apulian cultivar mainly grown in the Foggia province, in the areas of Torremaggiore, San Severo, San Paolo Civitate and Serracapriola in particular (i.e. Danuia and the upper Tavoliere delle Puglie). The oil yield is medium and Peranzana-based EVO oils have balanced bitterness and spiciness, and typical hints of flavour of almond, artichoke and tomato.
Picholine is one of the most representative cultivars of the French territory, especially of Provence. Today it is widespread in other countries as well, Italy included, and has its maximum diffusion in Puglia. One of the characteristics of Picholine olives is the easy detachment of their pulp from the stone, which makes them suitable (and famous) as cocktail olives, too. Picholine-based EVO oils show elegant vegetal and fruity notes of flavour, with hints of fresh grass and green tomato.
Raggiola is a typical cultivar of the Marche region, mainly found in the Pesaro area; it has a late-ripening and a good yield in olive oil production. The EVO Oils produced using the Raggiola are equilibrated, with a low-medium bitterness and pungency, and are usually characterized by an almond flavour.
Roggianella is a cultivar typically found in Calabria; its tree is rustic, autofertile and very resistant to the most typical fungal and bacterial infections, and to parasites. Roggianella has a late and progressive ripening and average olive oil yield; its olive oils are of medium intensity and are characterized by grass, artichoke and almond scents.
Rotondella (“roundish”) is a typical Salerno cultivar which takes its name from the typical shape of its olive; it is also known as Mannella, Minutella, Olivella, or Tonella. Rotondella is characterized by medium-early veraison, and a high oil yield; its plant shows good resistance to peacock eye disease, droughts and cold temperatures.
Salella is a typical cultivar from Cilento; it is also known as Auliva Ruorio, Marrella, and Olivo di Salento. The cultivar is characterized by medium-early ripening, and high yield in olive oil production. Salella is also used as table olive in a typical preparation of the region, the Oliva salella ammaccata del Cilento (slow food presidium).
Salviana, also called Frecciara, is a cultivar typical of Lazio, and more specifically of the Sabina area; the harvest period is between late October and early November and olive oil yield is high. The Salviana tree shows average resistance to oil flies and peacock eye disease, and it is self-sterile (so other cultivars function as its pollinator); it is one of the most common cultivars used in the production of Sabina PDO EVO oils.
The Sardinian Semidana cultivar can be mainly found in the central-southern area of the island, around Oristano. The name Semidana is reminiscent of the “Semidas”, the ancient walkways which crossed the olive groves. Semidana has a late ripening, it is resistant to main external agents, and has a good oil yield; its bitterness and pungency tones are balanced.
Taggiasca is the main olive variety of Liguria; its name derives from the city of Taggia (Imperia). Thanks to its rich tasty flavour, it is not only used for olive oil production but also consumed as table olive. It usually confers its olive oils elegant notes of almond and nuts.
Tonda Iblea is a Sicilian autochthonous cultivar mainly found in Ragusa, Siracusa and Catania. It is the main cultivar of the Monti Iblei PDO EVO oils (60 to 90%). Its name derives from the particular circular shape of its olive and from the area where it is mostly cultivated, the Hyblaean Mountains.
Tortiglione is a typical cultivar of Abruzzo; it owes its name to the typical tree trunk which twists on itself. Tortiglione-based EVO oils, when produced in a meticulous way, have bitter and spicy notes of a decidedly high quality, thanks to its richness in polyphenols content.
Verdello is a native Sicilian variety of olive which can be mainly found in the province of Messina. Verdello olive trees are not very resistant to low temperatures and peacock spot diseases. At the organoleptic analysis, Verdello olive oils show hints of tomato leaves, thistle, freshly cut grass and green almond, along with less common flavour tones of green apple and aromatic herbs.