Meet Our Producers:
Argali - the making of an organic olive oil masterpiece.
By David Greybe
Argali is the future face of organic extra virgin olive oil in Greece. Of that there is no doubt. In the first six months of 2016 alone, Argali Superior Organic Extra Virgin Olive Oil has won no less than 10 awards at international olive oil competitions.
This included a Gold Award at BIOL 2016 in Italy, the world’s foremost international competition for extra virgin organic olive oils. Argali was also named “Best Olive Oil Worldwide” in the Koroneiki olive variety category at the inaugural ATHENA International Olive Oil Competition 2016 in Greece.
At the heart of the Argali success story is a passionate pursuit of a holistic and authentic approach to organic food production.
“The pursuance of monetary profit is not what drives Argali,” explains Giovanni Bianchi, owner of this bespoke family-owned olive oil business in the picturesque valley below the seaside town of Gargalianoi, in south western Peloponnese in Greece. “Our primary aim is the protection of natural resources, respect for nature, and the adoption of a natural method of production of olive oil.”
NO CHEMICAL FERTILISERS
“There are no fertilisers, pesticides or weed killers whatsoever used in our olive grove,” Giovanni points out. “The soil is fertilised with olive leaves retrieved from the olive mill and the olive trees are not watered.”
Argali has unquestionably raised the bar among its peers since the launch of its exquisite organic extra virgin olive oil in 2013.
The son of an Italian diplomat, Giovanni was brought up in Greece and fell in love with the natural beauty and rich mythology of this ancient Mediterranean land. Together with his wife, Licia, and their two young sons they live in Rome. Giovanni commutes regularly to the family olive grove in Gargalianoi to oversee operations.
As Giovanni explains, the family’s passion for Greece combined with a deep love for a healthy and natural diet inspired them to purchase their olive grove with 250 established Koroneiki olive trees in the Spring of 2004. Each olive tree is numbered and meticulously monitored.
Giovanni describes Argali as a “work in progress”. After the purchase of the olive grove Giovanni immediately set about implementing a rigorous programme to obtain organic certification with BIO Hellas, the organic accreditation authority in Greece.
This meant rigorous supervision of all the processes and adherence to exacting organic guidelines, from hand-picking the olives during the harvest season through to strict control of the production process in a nearby olive oil mill and storage of their precious “liquid gold” in stainless steel tanks on the property. There were also scheduled inspections and spot checks on the ground of both the olives and the olive oil by BIO Hellas.
At the same time, Giovanni and his team underwent comprehensive training to improve production methods. This included learning the correct techniques for pruning and improving the quality of the olive oil through changes in specific aspects of the production process and the introduction of rigid baskets for storage of freshly harvested olives to avoid bruising.
Giovanni was rewarded for all the effort and hard work when Argali obtained Bio Hellas certification in 2008. Five years later, in 2013, Argali Superior Organic Olive Oil was launched to acclaim.
Harvest time is in November and December and the olives are pressed within 12 hours of harvesting to ensure very low acidity, Giovanni explains. Pressing takes place at 27 degrees Celsius so that the oil maintains its aroma and retains a large amount of polyphenols (natural antioxidants).
Giovanni points out that the olive trees of the Koroneiki variety are perfectly adapted to the dry climate and rocky terrain of the southern Peloponnese region of Greece.
“While the usual olive oil yield of the Koroneiki variety is approximately 10 litres per tree, in our cultivation the trees produce only 2 to 5 litres of the purest first pressing of the season’s extra virgin olive oil,” Giovanni says.
“Even if an olive tree that is not watered produces only a third of a tree that is watered, we firmly believe it is better to sacrifice quantity in order to produce organic olive oil of the highest quality and with a light ecological footprint,” Giovanni adds.
Greybe Fine Olive Products is excited about our partnership with Giovanni and delighted to bring his exquisite award-winning Argali organic olive oil to discerning customers in the UK.
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