If Spain had a main drag, Abbae de Quieles would be nowhere near it. It’s up in the northern part of Navarre, near the French border and the town of Teruda. While we’re used to crazy weather in Michigan, apparently we’ve got nothing on this place. They have tremendous winds that blow through all year, keeping the land dry and the conditions perfect for growing olives.
The site and the name—Abbae de Quieles—are in reference to the abbot that owned the land in the Middle Ages. Olive trees have been on the land of the Abbae since Roman times, though they’ve only recently returned to form. When David Galindo replanted the orchard in 1997, he decided to space out the trees for maximum exposure to the elements. Wide spacing cuts down on yield but encourages their natural defenses. There are no pesticides, so the extra virgin olive oil is organic.
David grows Arbequina olives exclusively. When it comes time to harvest (usually in October), a certain percentage of riper olives are left on the tree. “If the olives are too ripe,” David explained, “they would alter the finished flavor of the oil.” The younger the olive, the less ripe it is and the less oil it produces, but the flavor is more intense. Again, yield takes a hit, but the flavor is multiplied.