How can O&CO. offer the world's best olive oil?
We have the strictest guidelines and selection criteria from harvesting to bottling.
We consider the making of olive oil our craft, a tradition since high antiquity. We have become close with our olive oil producers, the backbone of our business and we believe whole-heartedly in developing good taste and sharing with you what we have learned over the course of our olive oil journey.
WELL, IT’S IMPORTANT TO UNDERSTAND HOW OLIVE OIL IS PRODUCED.
Each stage of the olive oil production process - from deciding when to harvest the olives to the pressing, bottling and storage of the oil - needs to be conducted under optimal conditions for the resulting oils to be considered for O&CO.’s selection. For example, the trees may bear the perfectly ripened green olives that are then hand-harvested, but if the conditions of the press are not hygienic or if the olive “paste” is heated above a certain temperature, the result will be an inferior oil.
WHY THE MEDITERRANEAN
IS STILL THE BEST…
It matters where the ingredients come from
Just as tomatoes, mozzarella and basil taste better in Italy,
the elements that impact an olive tree’s harvest (elevation,
irrigation, climate, the nature of the soil, and countless
others) are key ingredients in determining the quality and
taste of an olive's oil. The saying 'it matters where it comes
from' is the holy grail, so the next time you taste an olive oil,
consider where it comes from.
THE O&CO. DIFFERENTIATORS...
Olives must be:
- hand-harvested when still green
- immediately transported to the mill
- sorted to select the “best” that
continue onward to pressing
The O&CO. way
- production process is traced from
harvest to bottling to subsequent
delivery to our boutiques
- olive processing occurs below 77
- olive oils of different origins are never
pressed together, which would result
in sub-standard oil
- low acidity level not to exceed 0.3%
- mandate hygienic conditions at each
stage of the production process
The O&CO. label includes...
- - The name of the producer and the mill
- - The country of origin
- - The date of harvest
- - The specific lot
- - The olive varietals
- - The number of liters selected by O&CO.
Systematic Control & Quality Assurance (QA)
The O&CO. laboratory is a temple dedicated to extreme quality control. It’s here that each year, Eric Verdier tastes 800 - 1,200 samples sent to us by the 250 producers who meet our specifications. There are 3 primary tests performed as our tasting selection criteria:
- Examination of the oil in a transparent container to check its luminescence and if it is an unblended oil
- Short inhalations that uncovers faults
- The tasting... 'the moment of truth' that allows Eric to measure an oil's fluidity, known as the 'capacity to slide on the tongue'. There are also the oil's notes that we believe are dominant 'characteristics' when 'tasting' an olive oil. Learn more in our TASTING LEGEND >
Final Selection: The O&CO. Points System & Scorecard
The end result of Eric's QA is a pre-selection of oils, each scored on a scale of 200, which are then tested by a small committee, including our chief olive grower, Albert Baussan. All oils considered for O&CO. selection must achieve a minimum of 130 points. Each harvest and year, between 20 and 30 batches of olive oil are selected with leading batches typically earning between 170 - 180 points. A comparable point system has been devised for all non-olive oil products, which means for every single O&CO. product, Eric tastes, rates and serves as the final authorization prior to a product being distributed on the O&CO. label.
Producers who don’t reach the final selection group to be carried by the O&CO. label, are advised by Eric as to why they did not reach the O&CO. final selection standards following sampling.
110 Olive Oil Mills to Date
Adhering to the O&CO. Quality Standards
Given O&CO.'s strict guidelines for selection, once a producer understands the criteria, those producers tend to be selected year after year, unless there are climate incidents that impact the quality of the oils produced in a given harvest/year. In the 17 years since O&CO.'s inception, a cumulative total of 110 olive oil mills have met the O&CO. standards and have been selected for distribution on the O&CO. label.
TRACEABILITY AS A GUIDELINE: The O&CO. ‘Taste’ Points
All oils carried on the O&CO. label are traced from harvest to bottling.
Eric tastes all O&CO. samples, scores them and is a member of the committee for final selection of oils
Selected oils are then bottled and sent to O&CO.'s distribution center in Portugal. Eric is sent samples of each oil in Paris, to taste post-bottling
Follows the arrival of the first shipment to O&CO.'s boutiques; where Eric conducts a 3rd tasting onsite
Eric monitors intra-season inconsistencies directly in O&CO.'s boutiques throughout the year
In addition to the Best Before Date (BBD), O&CO. prints the actual harvest month and year on every label to guarantee that oils are from the current harvest.
In each tasting, all oils are scored according to the 3 primary O&CO. QA testing criteria: 'by taste', 'by nose' and 'by luminescence'.
O&CO. PRODUCT DEVELOPMENT
The strict guidelines established as the mandate of O&CO.'s olive oil selection has become instilled throughout our product development. Given our standards, we’ve been fortunate to attract the highest quality chefs and culinary partners with whom we collaborate on a number of products, from such delectable culinary creations as our Artichoke & Apricot Cream to cultural mainstays such as our very own Ketchup. The O&CO. product development cycle from concept to shelf, ranges anywhere from 6 months to 3 years with the pre- requisite that all products carried on the O&CO. label are under the trusted sensory advisory of Eric Verdier.