We sure did get an Olive Oil education during this episode with Arden Coturri. Her passion for olive oil started back in the early 1990’s and decided that they would plant a family olive grove with trees that were imported from Italy – (in fact about 10,000 tiny plants were brought over that needed to be propagated). Wanting to get more knowledge, Arden enrolled in a class through UC Davis on the sensory of olive oil. Turns out that Arden has such good sensory evaluation skills, the California Olive Oil Council approached her to become an olive oil taster. Arden has been a member of the California Olive Oil Council’s Tasting Panel for over 20 years. This is a panel that blind tastes oil from their members to distinguish whether or not their oil is worthy of having ‘Extra Virgin’ on their label for that harvest.
As complete novices, she walked us through a tasting of 6 different oils (in beautiful Spanish blue glasses), teaching us about what makes a good olive oil, what the different imperfections taste like, how they go about the process of tasting and what it really means for their members. Arden taught us what to look for on a label and how to make purchasing decisions. Of course, the oil that Arden produces for the family winery; Winery Sixteen 600 was the best of the lineup. It was a great conversation and hopefully it will give you some insight the next time you grab the bottle that has been sitting in the back of the cupboard for five years.