A great olive oil or specialty oil has a freshness and aroma that’s unrivaled, and one of the market’s greatest assets is its versatility and selection. Whether it’s a light and sweet Arbequina or a peppery Koroneiki, consumers of gourmet oils know that authenticity reigns. According to the Specialty Food Association, three of the top five emerging cuisines include Mediterranean, Greek and Spanish, all of which become trigger words when marketing and merchandising imported oils from those regions.
Additional benefits lay in the products’ health claims. The cornerstone of the Mediterranean diet, olive oils and other premium oils provide inherent antioxidants that help keep the heart young. Healthy and all-natural claims are benchmarks in consumers’ purchasing decisions and should be promoted in any premium oil merchandising. High-end oils are also perfect for gifting an at-home chef or for personal use in the kitchen.
The Olivique (olivique.com) is a Spanish artisanal brand of extra virgin olive oil crafted in the region of Toledo. Their four varieties—Cornicabra, Koroneiki, Picual and Arbequina—are harvested naturally as the company has earned certifications for pesticide-free, chemical-free and non-GMO production.
An award winner at both the Napa Valley and Yolo County olive oil competitions, the Fresh Basil Olive Oil from Sutter Buttes (530/763-7921 or sutterbuttesoliveoil.com) is delightfully aromatic. The company hand-picks its basil for the infusion process within hours of its harvest so the full flavor and freshness of the herb is utilized, yielding a smooth and clean oil.
A brand-new introduction from Gaea (954/923-7723 or gaeaus.com), the Sitia Roots Organic Olive Oil preserves the past, supports its farmers and safeguards the environment in which it was produced. Part of the company’s Value line of products, Sitia Roots olives are hand-picked and coldpressed near the century-old estates of Sitia in Crete.
Like most of La Tourangelle’s (510/970-9960 or latourangelle.com) oils, the Sweet Almond Oil was created to nourish the body both inside and out. It can be used as a cooking oil for sautéing and frying, as a butter substitute when baking, or as a moisturizing agent for the skin. It’s packed with antioxidants, vitamins, protein, essential minerals and healthy fats.
The result of a decades-long quest to recreate the olive oil its founder Jonathan Bassett experienced as a child in Greece, The Olive Fruit (844/803-7293 or theolivefruit.com) is now producing Kiklos Greek Extra Virgin Olive Oil, a 100 percent natural Greek Koroneiki oil. The brand-new product is made in small batches from single-sourced Koroneiki olives that are harvested at the peak of ripeness so users experience a powerful and peppery finish.