I have an interest in olive oil because of the intertwined synergy between olives and grapes. Vines and olive trees seem to flourish together and the produce of both has so much to do with food and life. Many of the wines I taste come from producers who also make olive oil, whether on an artisan scale or as a commercial venture, so olive oils come my way frequently. I don’t profess any expertise in olive oils, and admit I have much to learn to be proficient in being able to appreciate it, let alone assess it in qualitative terms.
It was a little adventure to attend a promotion organised by the Embassy of Chile to taste a selection of premium Extra Virgin olive oils at the popular Vista Café on Oriental Parade, Wellington. The more comfortable and familiar drawcards were the food courses matched to the oils, and in fact which incorporated the oils, plus the selection of Concha y Toro wines that were to be on hand. On hand was Rachel Priestley, an Olives New Zealand judge, who independently rated the oils and had a hand in organising the tasting experience and the food matching exercise. Rachel is a highly regarded Wellington foodie with considerable hospitality experience, and her knowledge and confidence was clear to see. Her website is www.prodigal-daughter.com
On show at this event were four from the vast range: The ‘Casillero del Diablo’ Chardonnay 2011, a lighter, softly refreshing style, the new ‘Casillero del Diablo’ Cabernet Sauvignon 2011, vibrant and well-structured, the unique and complex ‘Marques Casa Concha’ Carmenere 2010 with its intriguing wild berry and herb amalgam, and the rather excellent ‘Marques Casa Concha’ Merlot 2010 showing great concentration and lavish, but balanced oaking. From my viewpoint, these are wines that offer a difference to our own wines and are well-worth seeking out to experience.. www.conchaytoro.com