Argentina’s ‘Other’ Culinary Treat: Olive Oil

In a relatively short period of time, Argentina has become known worldwide for its exceptional bottlings of Malbec.

In the very same regions where Malbec reigns supreme—the provinces of Mendoza and San Juan—you’ll also find small “forests” of olive trees. And those trees are no afterthought.

There are 1,200 wineries in the region; there are 6,000 olive growers.

When you think about it, that makes perfect sense. In Italy, most families that grow winegrapes also grow olives. Italians were among the first people from the “Old World” to populate Mendoza and San Juan. Most of the newcomers who planted grapevines also planted olive trees—emulating the farms in their native land.

Those olive trees aren’t just for shade. Their fruit is used to make olive oil, and in Argentina, some of the wineries provide opportunities for visitors to press and take home their own oil.

La Familia Zuccardi is one such winery. The massive estate (which makes wine under the ZuccardiSanta Julia and Uno labels—all popular among Vinesse wine club members as well as within the wine shop) also has an on-site restaurant and, of course, offers wine tasting as well.

The Zuccardi family takes the same quality-focused approach to making olive oil as it does to making wine. The three varieties of olives—Frantoio, Manzanilla and Arauco&mash;are hand picked, sorted for quality, and then pressed and bottled.

The winery’s website even includes recipes for some tasty dishes made with olive oil:

  • Tomato soup with olive oil and mollé egg
  • Broad beans risotto with roasted fennel in olive oil
  • Salmon with potatoes, olive oil, baked red peppers and tomato sauce
  • Banana and olive oil bread
  • Spaghetti with prawns, lemon and olive oil

Unlike winemaking, the crafting of extra virgin olive oil embraces the concept of instant gratification—no aging necessary.

Posted in Wine Buzz
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