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The olive oil expert, Charles Quest-Ritson’s report on our latest Organic Olive Oil says;

“Racalia has produced its best crop ever. Racalia's  2019 crop of olive oil is of exceptionally high quality”

Charles’ full report of the Racalia Organic Olive Oil 2019 harvest is below.

2019 was a difficult year for olive-growers in western Sicily, in which some of the most reputable estates have failed to produce oils of their normal excellence. Not so Racalía, which has produced its best crop ever.

The olive-oil harvest is tested and assessed by experts every year. Quality is always variable, even when the same trees are harvested in the same way at the same time and the olives pressed by the same process in the same mill, year after year. The great olive-oil estates establish their reputation for quality through good management over many years, foreseeing problems and reacting quickly to the threats posed by weather and pests. Racalía is now one of the élite estates of western Sicily, the area which, in my opinion, consistently produces the best olive oil in the world - better than Catalonia, better than Tuscany and better than oil from any part of Greece. It is a remarkable achievement, and the result not just of good management but also of seeking the best advice and acting upon it.

Every olive oil is tested in two ways. First, it must undergo a full analysis in a specialist laboratory. This involves some thirty different tests, of which the best-known involve checking the levels of acidity and of peroxides (the lower, the better). No oil can be sold as 'extra virgin' - the highest ranking - unless its acidity is less than 0.8% and its peroxides fewer than 20ppm.

The second test that every crop must undergo is a formal tasting by a panel of qualified professional tasters. They will reject any oil that shows signs of a defect - for example, 'mustiness' caused by including olives that have begun to go mouldy or 'wineyness' resulting from allowing olives to dry up and shrink in periods of drought.

Only when these two series of tests are complete can an oil be assessed for its true character and qualities. And, at the end of the process, the panellists will award it a mark on a scale from 0 to 10.

Racalía's 2019 crop of olive oil is of exceptionally high quality. It passes the acidity and peroxide tests with flying colours (0.14% for acids and 4.6 for peroxides). These are exceptionally positive figures - the estate can be proud of these achievements. And there is no trace of any of the defects that professional tasters are trained to discern. But these are just the basics that have to be met before an oil can be endorsed as a high-quality product. The next stage is to describe the oil in the vocabulary that is used internationally to distinguish it from others.

There are three elements that should be present in every good olive oil: fruitiness, bitterness and pepperiness. 'Fruitiness' means the taste and flavours that it possesses, and requires further analysis. Bitterness is a quality that is discerned on the back of the tongue, while pepperiness is the hot aftertaste that catches the back of your throat, sometimes many seconds after you have swallowed - the 'cough factor'. Bitterness and pepperiness are qualities that must be present, if only to a small degree, but by far the most important requirement is that they should co-exist in balance with the fruitiness of the oil.

What, then, are the tastes and flavours present in the fruitiness of Racalía's 2019 crop? The first test is to smell it. This reveals a remarkably rich and varied series of sensations - herbs, ripe tomatoes, a hint of citrus and, above all, a delicious freshness. So far, so good. These are hallmarks of 'Cerasuola', the highly regarded local olive cultivar. The taste of Racalía's 2019 olive oil is also complex, and delicious. Tomatoes are present again, and herbs, but the strongest flavour is reminiscent of artichoke. The overall impression is of delicacy - a lighter oil than in recent years - but with plenty of body. A light bitterness is later perceptible, followed by some degree of pepperiness after the oil is swallowed. It is a stunning example of a delicate olive oil - well-balanced, and very much to the taste of English connoisseurs.

My colleagues in Trápani rate it at 8.5 out of 10, a remarkably high mark with which I concur. It is the best year for Racalía oil that I have ever tasted, and I am tempted to mark it is high as 9 out of 10.