We met our guide Steve downstairs to take us to Florence to begin the tour. There were 10 of us in the van as we ventured off to the countryside.
As we started out side of the city of Florence, Steve began to explain the various regions of the Tuscan wine country. We come to the Chianti Rufina region where our tour is being held. There are 9 different wine regions in Tuscany that make wine but only one area that make Chianti. There are only 35 vineyards that are licensed to make Chianti and produce 150,000 registered bottles yearly.
The vineyard we are going to is owned by the Gondi family. They built the villa 500 years ago. The villa is called Fattoria Di Grignano. They even built a chapel next to the residence so they could worship with out having to go into town.
Forty years ago they sold the estate to the Ingenoni family. They started out making shirts and have expanded to 100 other properties. Beside the vineyard they have 18,000 acres of olive trees. They produce and manufacture their own olive oil on site. Very little olive oil is actually produced on the site where it is grown.
The olives are brought in from the orchards and cleaned by removing the sticks and leaves then washed with water and ascorbic acid. Then the olives travel down to the crusher that grinds the the seeds and all into a mash. As the mash is stirred a worker watches for bubbles so that it doesn’t ferment. The olive mash warms up as it is stirred, so the temperature must be controlled and keep the mash cold. The best olive oil never reaches a temperature above 25 deg. Celsius while this one doesn’t get above 17 deg. Celsius. This produces an olive oil that is low in acidity and considered exceptional. While most olive oils at between 1-2% acid content, Gignano is only .01 – .04%. The oil is sent to a centrifuge to separate the oil from the mash. Then it travels to another centrifuge to remove the water content of the oil. This process reduces the water content to just a very small amount. The remaining water is extracted through a filtration process.
We were able to sample the olive with some fresh Tuscan bread and the oil has a nutty smooth taste across your palate. So we are now olive oil gourmets!