El Olivar de la Fuensanta, the roots of a unique extra virgin olive oil
Esta entrada también está disponible en: Spanish
Just as we are trying to establish our own cocoa plantation, years ago we tried to establish our own olive grove. Thankfully our attempts were successful and we now have our own grove to press olives to make the extra premium extra virgin olive oil which we can then use to make small oil cakes, and much more as you will see…
Enough time has now passed. After having left the olive trees in the hands of my cousin José Antonio, one of the best olive pruners (Estepa olive pruners have always had a particularly good reputation and for this reason the Duke of Ahumada, founder of the Guardia Civil, requested their presence in his estates every year), while the olives were left in the hands of the best master miller. This gives us an exceptional oil.
The time has come for us to proudly present it to our customers. So allow me please, dear reader, to show you its roots and highlight its uniqueness.
Our small family estate “La Fuensanta”, just over ten hectares, owes its name to a fountain. The water from this fountain is said to have healed the troops of Saint Ferdinand of Castile from a serious illness they had brought when they came to conquer the Moorish fortress of Estepa in the mid 13th century. Since then the old royal path nearby has been known as “Caminito del Santo Rey” or “The path of the Holy King”.
The king divided the land conquered among all the knights who had helped him. One of them, Lasarte received “La Fuensanta” and other properties. After working the land for centuries his descendants have ensured that generation after generation of olive workers considered this “one of the best estates on the best land in Estepa”. In addition, in the mid 19th century one of the descendants of this knight, José Lasarte y Ayala, decided to plant the “picudo blanco” variety of autochthonous olive trees from Estepa. These olives contributed to the exceptionally high quality of the oil which was used for other products and was acclaimed in every single agricultural fair.
This variety was extremely abundant in Estepa at that stage but was gradually replaced by other varieties with greater production. As a result “La Fuensanta” is now the only olive grove of its type in the world.
Now that our family has taken over we continue to treat the land in the same way, but we also treat this unique fruit with the special care it deserves. This is also true of how we make our sweets, always seeking excellence and putting all our love into the process. To put it simply, we maintain the trees, centuries-old olive trees that yield exceptional fruits. We also continue with the “real framework” of the plantation ( the trees are set 16 metres apart) ensuring they receive much more sun thus increasing their content in polyphenols, the healthiest components of the oil. This contrasts with modern practices (intensive or super-intensive growth) in which production takes precedence. We also crush the olives at the exact point when maximum quality can be achieved, a time that does not coincide with the moment of peak production. This means that the oil produced is a third of what could be obtained by executing this process once the olives are totally ripe.
This is why we crush the olives when they are still green to achieve the freshest and most intense notes in the oil.
In order to ensure that the fruit reaches the mill in perfect condition olives are picked by hand so as not to damage them and then crushed immediately. The resulting paste is stirred cold to obtain a low acidity juice preserving all the essences. Finally the oil is skimmed and decanted off using no additional chemical products to obtain a genuine oil “on the branch” that preserves all the scents and tastes provided by man’s skilful care and the land’s bounty.
Try it in our small oil mantecado cakes, savour it in the oil biscuits or simply add it to steaming toasted bread you can smell long before you ever taste it.