There are hundreds of different grape varieties in the world, each one having its own flavour profile and characteristics. Did you know that it's the same with olives? In Provence alone there are more than 100 varieties of olive tree. Some are very old and each one has a specific 'terroir' that comes partly from the soil in which the tree grows but also from other factors such as micro-climate, water and production know-how.
Mass produced olive oil is fine for every day use and for cooking but if you want to really step it up a notch then it's worth seeking out a good supplier. Like cheese, you can find pretty decent cheese in the local supermarket (in France) but if you buy from a top quality fromagerie then the quality jumps to an entirely different level.
Leïs Öoulivades is an olive oil sold by the specialist shop Première Pression Provence which specialises in high quality oils made by a selection of artisanal producers. La Nouvelle Récolte is what is says 'the new harvest'. It's an olive oil that was pressed in October 2011 - the Beaujolais Nouveau of oils you might say.
And what a treat it is. Made from olives harvested early it has a wonderful grassy aroma and flavour with a real pepperiness on the finish. The Arboussane olives are grown in the Bouche du Rhone at Mas Thibert owned by André Meiffre. Whereas many producers are used to blending different varieties, André prefers milling the Catalan olive as a mono varietal. Prone to suffering from the cold, he always harvests early even if yields are low.
Don't waste it in cooking, just savour the creamy unique flavour drizzled over fresh tomatoes or a few salad leaves, grind a little black pepper, add a few flakes of sea salt and dip your pain de campagne in it. This takes olive oil to a new level.
It's strange how we justify spending quite a lot of money on a delicious bottle of wine that is consumed in a single evening and yet we hesitate about spending the same kind of money on a bottle of olive oil that will last for several weeks at the very least.
I think we've found a new passion.