After analyzing ten separate tanks, harvested at different times and from various plots, I’ve selected an early hand-harvested monocultivar Canino oil from a single high elevation grove. The Canino olive is a special cultivar grown between the regions of Lazio and Umbria. It is such a small fruit that the pit can sometimes overwhelm the pulp and give a very low yield – between 11 and 13 percent – and it ripens later than other cultivars in the region. The Canino has an interesting flavor profile: It’s both complex and balanced with hints of freshly cut grass, almond, artichoke, and a delayed, elongated peppery finish.
Four to five million years ago, nearly fifty percent of Italy was underwater. Umbria was actually half underwater, and the town of Orvieto was geographically situated at the shoreline of the sea, on the direct line of seashells, which were transported from the deep sea and resulted in many layers of stratification in huge quantities. Today, this unique combination of a loose, sandy seabed atop a high elevations grove, with perfect sun exposition and brisk winds, is the ideal microclimate for growing healthy olives.
The most famous and popular wines of Umbria are the too-chattering whites from Orvieto and the muscular and gripping reds of Montefalco. While these appellations have helped Umbrian wines gain more shelf space at your local wine merchant, there are many lesser known and terroir specific appellations worth exploring. One of the more consistent growing areas that have slipped under the radar of scrutinizing wine critics is Todi DOC, nestled in the hills between the medieval towns of Orvieto and Spoleto. Todi is your quintessential hilltop town in Italy complete with winding roads, town squares, and endless options of gelato, cured meats, and espresso.
Producers grow white grapes and red grapes here, but the reds are really quite interesting. Produced mostly from central Italy’s prized indigenous grape, Sangiovese, they exhibit beautiful aromas and flavors of dried cherries and herbs with subtle notes of saddleback and balsamic. Neither too weak nor strong, they are excellent accompaniments to the dizzying array of Umbrian fare such as Ribollita or lentil soup made with the exceptionally flavored and highly nutritious Castelluccio lentil. Equally delicious is the union of Todi DOC reds with the artisanal corallina di Norcia, a salami made by the skilled people of Norcia who were once known for travelling all over central Italy to organize and take part in making fresh and cured salami. The corallina di Norcia is produced from finely ground cuts of lean pork with cubes of prime-quality back fat and flavored with wine and garlic. The firm tannins of the wine gracefully cut through the fatty proteins while accenting the flavors and essence of the cured meats.