Olive Buzz

Two Cough Olive Oil: A Sonoma, California Tasting

When people think of a trip to Sonoma, California - the often over-looked cousin of Napa Valley - they usually think wine. However, this excursion wasn't your run of the mill wine trip, it was different. Today, we were going olive oil tasting. Our first stop was DaVero, primarily selected for its olive oil tasting, with some Italian wines as an added bonus (because you cannot go to Sonoma without having wine). Located in the Dry Creek region of Sonoma Valley, situated off a slight bend in the "highway", had we not known to look for it we would have driven right past it - in fact we did.

The short dirt driveway led us around back to the quaint and rustic Mediterranean-esque tasting space. Unsurprisingly, a large olive oil tree was the center piece of the courtyard. After a white wine prep in the small indoor tasting area, our group took reign over the outdoor picnic table, despite the day’s 100+ degree heat advisory. What transpired was our first olive oil sensory class (backed by more DaVer o wine of course).
Our clan of 7 were all experienced drinkers, but each of us lacked the palate for the complex dimensions of the olive. A woman greeted us with a large orange picnic basket. From her goody bag, she pulled out bottle after bottle, sort of like a clown car, because in my still sober mind her basket was way too small to fit so much stuff! Our tasting started with wine, a multitude of DaVero Italian varietals. While not a huge wine drinker, I truly enjoyed the 2007 Estate "Rosso Di Bea,” but that may have been because the upcoming olive oil tasting was only thing on my mind.

Finally after priming our palates with wine, we got to the oil. DaVero has three signature olive oils: Extra Virgin, Meyer Lemon, and "Utility" Oil. The first oil we tried was the EVOO. We were told there would be three levels to the tasting experience. The first, after we sucked in air and let the oil hit our lips, with the oil lingering in front of our teeth, the second, once we let our tongue experience the flavor, and the third when we swallow it. As an inexperienced olive oil taster, the oil is like nothing I’ve ever had. It is simply put, amazing, and somewhat eye-opening with the level of complexity craft olive oil was capable of delivering. I was taken away by the flavor of the EVOO-fresh and grassy, sort of like a green banana. However, what really stood out in this tasting was the heat and peppery aftertaste hitting my taste buds after I swallowed the oil. It was a two cough olive oil as they say.

Next up: the Meyer lemon oil in the same fashion. This oil is not infused, instead the lemon rinds are crushed along with the olives for a fresher and purer taste. The oil is especially delightful on a summer day - like our tasting day. Next up is the "Utility" oil, however there is nothing utility about this oil, in my mind. This oil is not extra virgin; it is just a pure olive oil that is meant for cooking. It was flavorful and also contained the same peppery aftertaste as the EVOO and I would happily dip bread in it all day long.

We all left as happy campers, each one of us with a few bottles of olive oil and wine in tow. We hit three more wineries on our trip, but the conversation throughout the day kept going back to the oil. My palate was one step closer to rebuking the jug of COSTCO "EVOO" that waited for me back at home.

Posted July 28, 2011 | 

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