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Arbequina: Spanish Top Quality!

Why is Arbequina olive oil so highly regarded? And what are the characteristics of this little olive? To begin with, Arbequina has a very low acidity level, typical of the best olive oils. Additionally, it is fruity and mild with a peppery accent. Depending on the soil and the region where the trees are planted, its character varies somewhat. Therefore, even here terroir is important.

A Little History

The Spaniards discovered the Arbequina olive in the seventeenth century in the Middle East. They were extremely enthusiastic about the amazing taste of the oil made from it. The seeds from the trees (or often bushes) were brought back to Spain, and local farmers, mostly from inland Catalonia, set to work planting them.

From 1850, the olive groves were increasingly abandoned. On the one hand, there was less demand for lamp oil at this time, for example, because of the discovery of electricity, and on the other it was economically harder to compete with Arbequina against varieties with a higher yield. Picual, for example, became the most widely planted olive in Spain (despite its much sharper and less nuanced taste). In time, the cultivation of Arbequina was totally abandoned.

At the end of the last century, an old tree was rediscovered in Arbeca (Catalonia) growing its typical, small, round olives. The olive tree was named Arbequino, 'or inhabitant of Arbeca'. As fruits are feminine in Spanish, the olive itself was called ‘Arbequina’. In the period that followed, more of these trees were discovered on the nearby hills, all of which had been planted long ago.

Extra Virgin

The Arbequina olive is one of the smallest varieties in the world. On average five kilogrammes of olives are needed to produce a single litre of oil. The olive oil is obtained through a first (cold) pressing. It is worth noting here that ‘cold’ doesn't really mean very much anymore as modern presses are so powerful that second (hot) pressings are no longer needed. No chemicals are added either.

There are different grades, but we prefer the best quality: 'Extra Virgin' (or 'Extra Verge' in Catalan). In any event, all Extra Virgin olive oils are made by cold pressing (or centrifuge) and without added chemicals. This is important because this method preserves all the healthy antioxidants in the oil.

A large part of the Arbequina harvest is also exported every year to Italy, where it is used as the base for the better blends that are sold throughout the world. Arbequina is considered the standard for high quality in the New World too.

Our olive oil offer:

Bienteveo Virgen Extra by Bodegas Luis Perez: a fine and delicate olive oil from the South of Spain.

Les Sorts  Extra Virgin olive oil 2L by Celler Masroig: a somewhat more pungent olive oil from inland Catalonia (the region around Priorat and Montsant)

Les Sorts Extra Virgin olive oil 0.5L from Celler Masroig: a somewhat more pungent oil from inland Catalonia (the region around Priorat and Montsant)

Use this delicious olive oil in salads and dressings, on risotto, or for drizzling on vegetables. Also try it on fruit like melon, bananas or pineapple. Or just dunk a good hunk of bread into it.