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Sunday, February 21, 2016

Familia Zuccardi Third Visit, "The Olive Oil Experience"

The best olive oil selection ever,

I was very excited to go back to Familia Zuccardi as it is always an amazing experience, it is one of my favorite place on this planet, something about the warm welcome of the family and employees, the atmosphere, the knowledge and the superior quality of their products. If you come to Mendoza you must visit Familia Zuccardi.

This visit was about olive oil, I have to admit I love olive oil as much as wine, and fresh superior quality olive oil is one thing I will miss the most going back to Canada.

Our guide and instructor Torey Novak and his trainee Cristina Jungblut were the perfect hosts.

 Torey Novak                                                                           Cristina Jungblut

Torey told us about the olive cultivation and their effects on the quality of olive oils, the physical characteristics of olive oils, the Influence of technology on quality, the tasting technique with the evaluation of fruity bitter and pungent intensity and how it's done here at Zuccardi with a technical visit to the olive grove and olive oil mill.

We had the best and most passionate teacher, Torey passion for olive oil is contagious, and his enthusiasm and knowledge  about olive oil, made this visit the most enjoyable experience ever.

We started the visit with a coffee at Pan y Oliva  the second gastronomic enterprise of the Zuccardi Family,  it´s essence can be summed up in three concepts: Restaurant – Delicatessen – Classroom.

Pan Y Oliva

Lunch at Pan y Oliva

Lunch at Pan y Oliva

 After coffee we were ready for our class, as soon as we walked outside Sirah the family dog a beautiful and friendly Rhodesian Ridgeback greeted us, he followed us all morning.

Sirah, the welcoming family dog,

First we gather under an olive tree, to learn about the chemical, the history, how to recognized deficiencies, the different species and the  Maturity Stages;

  • Green  Immature

Immature olives are green and quite firm. They produce oil that is bitter and grassy with unripe and vegetative characteristics. These oils are high in polyphenols (anti-oxidants) and other flavor components

  • Veraison

As the olive fruit matures from green to yellow-green, it starts to soften and then the skin turns red-purple in color. This is called veraison. The olives still have a high polyphenol content at this stage, and are starting to develop some ripe-fruity characteristics.  

  • Black  Mature

As the fruit matures further, the skin turns from purple to black  depending on the varieties, and the flesh darkens all the way to the pit. At this stage, the polyphenol and the chlorophyll contents decline and the carotenoid content increase.  

Torey also spoke about the different kind of trees and olives, they have 30 species at this location alone, even if you cannot eat the fruit directly from the tree, you can bite in it to extract some of the juice and taste the intensity of the spiciness.

Next we went to the Olive Mill. It was sparkling clean with the most modern equipment to extract the best oil quality. They are using  hammermill, hammermill has swinging arms that push the olives into the sides of a rotating chamber through centrifugal action. The process last for about 45 min. it can be more to extract more oil or less to get better quality,  at Zuccardi it is not about quantity, the focus here is quality.

Olive Mill


Torey told us that the 4 enemies of olive oil are time, oxygen, light and water, that's why you have to keep your olive oil in a cool, dry and dark place and consume it right away, in my house we consume half a liter per two weeks, it's the best way for us to help balance our cholesterol levels and offset potentially harmful diseases like atherosclerosis and hypertension. Zuccardi keep fresh extracted olive oil in a controlled environment to prevent oxidation.

Controlled environment to prevent oxidation
After our visit to the mill we went back to Pan y Oliva to do the tasting, it was amazing, we tasted the best olive oils, and discover how olive oil elevate and accentuate the flavor not only of fresh baked bread, but also of fresh cheeses and fruits, even ice cream, and depending of your own taste preference you can pair spicy or mild oil to all kind of fresh and quality products.

Nothing better than fresh baked bread and quality olive oil

My favorite Arauco on fresh figs

Pairing cheese with olive oil, fantastic:)))

Olive oil spiciness on Chocolate Ice Cream, amazing:)))

To end this fantastic class we went to the olive grove.

This class was a discovery for me, I intend to enroll in an online class on olive oil, and will put olive oil pairing on my menu when entertaining friends and family.

Visiting Zuccardi was amazing, I hope that one day I will come back and visit their new vineyard in the Uco Valley.

A special thank you to Julia and Marcela,


  1. It was very interesting to know about olive oil, Diane. Thank you. I have read your article with great interest.
    And your photos are clear and crisp as always.

  2. Thank you Irena, it was a fantastic experience, have a wonderful week:)))

  3. Really nice and interesting post. I was looking for this kind of information and enjoyed reading this one. Keep posting. Thanks for sharing.

  4. Thank you for your comment, working with Zuccardi family was amazing, Thanks to Julia and her team.