Mavrolia Olive

Ark of taste
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Mavrolia is an ancient olive cultivar from Messinia, in the southwestern part of the Peloponnese region. These trees survived the devastating fires that occurred in the region in the early 19th century. It is believed that they were the main variety found during the time of the reign of Nestor (Mycenaean period), in fact they are the oldest indigenous variety in the region.
The trees are tall and have silvery foliage. Their fruits are small and black, a characteristic from which the name of the variety is derived (mavrolia = black olive, from the Greek μαύρο = black and ελιά = olive). Harvest takes place from the beginning of October to the end of November and the tree has a moderate yield.
Extra virgin mavrolia olive oil has a characteristic consistency and body, of medium viscosity (approx. 6.5 /10). The colour is light green and light gold based on the ripening stage of the fruit and its respective chlorophyll and carotene content. This oil has medium intensity organoleptic characteristics, which has a predominant spiciness and a less intense bitterness, with a distinctive slight astringency. Its intense aromas are characterised by tomato, ripe fruits, almonds and sour fruits, while the less intense aromas are freshly cut grass, pepper, aromatic herbs, spices and butter. In addition, notes of artichoke, tomato leaf, chamomile, mint and tropical fruit stand out.
It is recommended that this oil be consumed raw in order to fully savour all the taste components. Due to its organoleptic and aromatic profile it is particularly suitable for soups and meats, but it is also used for the preparation of desserts. It is an essential ingredient in pétimezopita (Πετιμεζόπιτα), a traditional sweet bread, as the more subtle characteristics and aromas of fruit, butter and almonds go well with the flavours of the pastry. Production takes place around the end of September, near the grape harvest period and following the production of local wines and petimezzi from musts (Πετιμέζι, grape juice). This is why it is the first fresh olive oil used in the local gastronomy and it is used in all recipes, especially seasonal desserts.
The soils on which the mavrolia variety is grown are 90% non-irrigated and are overall calcareous with a rather basic pH. The land is completely terraced, and its altitude varies between 10 and 400 metres above sea level. The altitude, the quality of the soil and the ripening time make the mavrolia variety largely untouched by mildew (trophic disease), quite resistant to Pseudomonas savastanoi and peacock’s eye (Spilocaea oleaginea). This robustness could depend on the genetic characteristics and acclimatisation to the environment of the area.
One of the cultivation techniques used is the early pruning of trees, which helps the fruit to grow and results in the complexity of the olive oil. The trees are grown mainly with organic matter, indigenous vegetation and ground cover by sowing combined with some fertilisers. The main method of harvesting is by hand with little use of handheld mechanical equipment.
Currently, the main threats that are putting the conservation of mavrolia oil at risk, are the replacement of these trees with other more productive varieties, higher temperatures and, above all, drought.

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Nominated by:Anastasis Karambotsos