Although the Valgiano estate dates back to the 16th century, the energy on the grounds is relatively new. When I visited a few years ago, I was really impressed by the commitment Laura di Collobiano, Moreno Petrini and Saverio Petrilli had in making the ancient groves produce outstanding extra virgin olive oil. They've won numerous awards, including the prestigious Ercole Olivario. And they’ve won our customers’ hearts: this is consistently one of our most popular oils.
Valgiano is grown and pressed north of Lucca on the far west of Tuscany, about twenty miles inland from the Tyrrhenian sea. Lucca's oils have long been prized. In The Food of Italy (published in 1971 but still a great book for traditional Italian foodways), Waverly Root writes, "The greatest gastronomic glory of Lucca is its olive oil, the finest in Italy."
The latest vintage, pressed in the fall of 2012, is bright yellow green and smells like dandelions and grass. This year's harvest is much bolder than last year's, with a strong bitterness and a punchy peppery finish.
Zingerman's Food Tours is visiting Tuscany in October, 2013. Join us for a behind-the-scenes insiders' journey to traditional food makers like this.