Chilean poet Pablo Neruda penned glowingly of his country’s prized olive trees. In the coastal Colchagua Valley in central Chile, nicknamed the Napa Valley of South America, Deleyda has staked its reputation on quality since 2006. Ten years later, its green gold rivals many in the Mediterranean.
Deleyda grows Spanish Arbequina and Arbosana olives, Greek Koroneiki and Kalamata, along with Frantoio, Leccino and Coratina olives. Despite the latter three being Italian cultivars, the Frantoio and Leccino underperform compared to their Tuscan and Umbrian counterparts. The both require cooler temperatures to deliver crisp, vibrant and structured oils. Nevertheless, the Coratina – a prominent feature of the Pugliese landscape – prospers in this microclimate.
I’ve selected a monocultivar Coratina oil that was extracted in a modern Alfa Laval mill at 23.7 degrees Celsius to preserve its volatile aromas. Though not as bitter and overbearing as its northern hemisphere brethren, its viscous yet lively texture sings with undertones of green almond and tomato leaf which is accompanied by balanced bitterness and a delayed, elongated peppery finish. It’s light enough for seafood and salads, yet herbaceous to cut through soups, pizza, pasta and red meat. A prime example of one of the world’s most beloved olives for oil production.
Like all other South American countries, Chile can trace its winemaking roots to religious settlers and missionaries. In this case, Father Francisco de Carabantes is credited with planting the first imported vines in 1548. Wine production and grape growing has flourished ever since, but the style favored cheap plonk and bulk wine for the better part of four hundred years. Only recently in the last twenty years has Chilean winemaking entered the world’s stage for quality wine.
The Colchagua wine appellation is a sub-region of the larger and more recognizable Rapel Valley. It is a sun-drenched area with long days of sunshine, cool evenings, mild rainfall, and a dry chalk-like subsoil ideal for grape growing. Look for wines produced from the most widely planted grape, Cabernet Sauvignon, and also from grapes Carmenere and Merlot. Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay lead the way for white grape plantings.