Respect for the territory and love of the land are not a legacy left by parents, but rather a loan, borrowed from future generations. This is the philosophy of Montecroce. This estate produces the finest oils in a constant search for absolute quality. The Montecroce quest for excellence started fifty years ago with Domenico, the grandfather of the present owner. He decided to devote himself to olive growing, and to build an estate oil-mill in the center of the property. After a few years, he was joined by his son, Egidio, fresh from studying agriculture in Brescia. Subsequently, Egidio took over, sure that he was moving in the right direction.
Located in the Lake Garda region, the estate has over 20 hectares of olive groves. There are nearly 10,000 trees of eight different cultivars, planted mainly in the soil of Desenzano, Padenghe and Maguzzano. Only the select olives necessary for the production of Garda D.O.P. extra virgin olive oil are grown. The cultivation system is partly traditional policonical vase and partly monocone.
In comparison with the undisputed quality that has made Garda oil famous over the years – further confirmed by excellent results in various international competitions – the quantity available is very small. Depending on the harvest, the products may be sold out in just a few months. The whole Lake Garda area produces less than one-percent of Italian oil. Those who have decided to work seriously on the product are now leading figures of a niche market. Regular customers are wine lodges, restaurants, specialty food shops, and private individuals who desire quality oil.
The Oil Mill
The traditional stone mill wheels have recently been integrated with a refinisher to homogenize the olive pulp crushed by the crushers and by a three phase continuous cycle extraction plant. The pulp is thrust continuously into the decanter, which is divided into three constituent elements: oil, water and sansa (residues).
With centrifugation of the liquid part only, the oil is separated from the vegetable water, and filtering with cotton is carried out. Subsequent analyses by the appropriate bodies result in a precise evaluation of oil quality.
Egidio Ramanzini, the present owner, is a no-nonsense person who dedicates himself to his work with utter conviction. The results efficiently transmit all the Garda producers’ desire to gain recognition. Of modest size, the mill always requires great care and attention in management of all the operations carried out: from washing the olives to defoliation and final storage of the oil at controlled temperatures in the absence of oxygen. The direct consequence is extra virgin oils with original acidity of 0.2 degrees, and D.O.P. extra virgin oils with acidity of 0.1 degrees.
By choice the mill produces only blends, which are oils obtained from the simultaneous milling of different olive varieties. This makes the oils far more balanced than mono-varietal oils. So over and above the seriousness of the operators, great intuition is also required. Perhaps the secret lies precisely here, in great human richness, in the ability to translate the smallest gesture into commitment and responsibility.
FAQ: What is D.O.P. Certification for Olive Oil?
D.O.P. is an acronym for Denominazione di Origine Protetta, or Protected Designation of Origin. The purpose of the designation is to assure consumers a genuine product, which is of superior quality and flavor, enforced by European Union law.
In order to be granted DOP certification, olive oils must comply with specific production criteria:
- It must come from the area located within the borders specified by the denomination
- It must contain at least 80 percent olives from trees of the varieties ‘frantoio’, ‘correggiolo’, ‘moraiolo’, ‘leccino’ or ‘pendolino’
- It's color must range from bright green to yellow
- It 's acidity must be lower than 0.5 percent
- All productions stages must be documented and bottling must take place in the production area.
A mandatory "panel test" carried out by a group of expert tasters assigns a quality score. Only olive oils that receive a score of 7 or higher can use the DOP designation.