1950’s – the Alonso family were shoemakers who began searching Chile to produce the best oil in the world. There were many wineries…why not olives? They settled in the VI region of Chile, built a dam to offset water shortage and over time planted four hundred hectares of Italian Frantoio, Leccino and Nocellara, Greek Koroneiki and Spanish Picual, Arbosana and Arbequina olives – all milled today using an Alfa Laval three phase machine.
The Arbequina truly is the world’s cultivar. It has spread throughout Spain, Chile, Argentina, California and Australia due to its high oil content, consistent fruity bearing and adaptability to various agronomic conditions. It can be planted in traditional olive culture practices, but also thrives in super high-density production. In this capacity the Arbequina is “dwarfable.” It can be tightly pruned in hedgerows so the fruit bears close to the central trunk. Machines skim the top similar to the grape harvest. The result is lower labor costs with quick efficient harvesting, reducing oxidative stress to the fruit.
This soft-spoken Arbequina has undertones of green almond, banana, freshly cut herbs and a medium-bodied peppery finish. Its buttery, mellow flavor profile is preferred amongst many cooks as it subsumes, not overwhelms, other ingredients in a dish. Excellent used raw on potatoes, eggs, herb-based sauces and over delicate seafood preparations.
In regards to winemaking, Chile is a fascinating place to grow and cultivate grapes. Most of the premier zones are at high elevations of six hundred feet or higher, and the dry climate and sandy soils keep vine louses and disease at bay. Due to this, Chile is known to have the largest concentration of un-grafted grapevines anywhere in the world. While many different types of grapes are produced into wine, Chile has staked its claim as the premier place for wines from the grape Carmanere. Considered a small and insignificant blending grape of Bordeaux, Carmenere has spread through many of Chile’s main wine zones over the last fifty years. Similar in appearance and eventual flavor profile to Merlot, Carmenere wines are plush, velvety, smooth, and approachable to a fault.