A feast of concentrated flavours from the 2021 olive harvest has paid dividends for Tokara, the family owned Stellenbosch wine and olive estate, with two gold medals for their top tier blends and recognition for their entire range at this year’s SA Olive Awards. 

TOKARA Premium Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO) and their Estate Blend available exclusively at Woolworths, were both awarded gold medals while the rest of the range earned silver.

South Africa produces world class olive oil and every year the SA Olive Awards acknowledges excellence by rewarding the best of the vintage as judged by a panel of international and local taste experts.

The spate of medals coincides with the spring release of Tokara’s new 2021 EVOOs singled out for their intensely concentrated flavours from the smaller than usual olive crop. This is particularly evident in the EVOOs from Tokara’s Italian varieties grown on the foothills of the Simonsberg.

“By picking and pressing our olives at just the right time, we captured the true herbaceous and nutty flavours of these Italian varieties, especially our Coratina which is an integral component of our Tokara Premium Blend,” says Gert van Dyk, Tokara’s olive oil master and operations manager at the Olive Shed.

The dark green tomato vine aromas and intense artichoke flavours have elevated the taste profile of the Tokara Premium Blend this year. 

“I can just imagine how this oil will enrich hearty minestrone, not to mention osso buco,” adds van Dyk, who still reminisces about his visit to Puglia in the heel of the boot of Italy where Coratina has thrived for centuries.

Making fine olive oil is all about capturing the goodness of the fresh olive in the bottle. It is a task van Dyk pursues with vigour and passion: “A good oil is made on the tree, and here at Tokara I’m lucky enough to be hands on from the olive groves right through to the final pressing stage.”  Under his watch, the hand-picked olives are pressed in the Olive Shed within 24 hours of being harvested to safeguard their unique flavour profiles. 

Tokara EVOOs span the complete olive oil taste spectrum from mild to the more robust. Five cold pressed EVOOs – two single variety oils: the delicately flavoured Mission and the full-flavoured and spicy Frantoio, as well as two more intense multi-varietal blends, and an unfiltered blend make up the collection. 

Frantoio, the most important olive variety in Italy is a key component of Tokara’s full-flavoured blended olive oils. It’s a medium to intense oil with green grassy tones. The palate is sublime and well balanced between green and bitter notes, with a nutty-almond aftertaste. 

The Mission variety, which stems from America, is mild and gentle with a finely balanced grassy, herbaceous character and a macadamia aftertaste, making it an all-round oil. 

The Multi-Varietal, a medley of Frantoio, Mission and Leccino, has an olive leaf and herbaceous character with a nutty aftertaste, while the Premium blend of Coratina and Frantoio leans more towards a rocket, artichoke and walnut flavour profile. Both are carefully blended to bring together the best characteristics of the various olive varieties. 

Tokara also has a refillable, unfiltered EVOO that redefines the meaning of untouched. Available on tap at the Deli, this unique artisanal multi-varietal blend is specially selected for its purity and unbridled flavours as the oil flows from the olive press. 

Tokara’s single variety or blended EVOOs are delicious simply tossed through crisp salad leaves and can transform any dish by intensifying the flavour and enhancing all the other ingredients.

Learn more about the farm’s olive oil journey by participating in a structured, guided EVOO tasting in the TOKARA Tasting Lounge. Bookings are advisable by emailing winelounge@tokara.com or calling Tel: 021-8085900. For online purchases visit https://www.tokara.com/product/tokara-frantoio-extra-virgin-olive-oil/

More about Tokara EVOOs

Throughout the classical wine-producing regions of the world, there is a natural association between the olive grove and the vineyard. At Tokara this celebrated relationship continues to thrive. 

Tokara’s olive oil journey began in 2000 when co-founder Anne-Marie Ferreira decided to produce single variety oils that would set them apart from the handful of South African olive oil producers at the time. Tokara focuses primarily on Tuscan varieties, each selected for its distinctive character and flavour profile. 

What began with four hectares of olive trees on Tokara’s steep slopes has grown to over 22 hectares, planted predominantly with the classic varieties of Frantoio, Coratina, Leccino and Mission.

Depending on the season, the harvest usually begins in mid-March, and continues until late-June. The varieties usually ripen at different times starting with Leccino, followed by Frantoio, then Mission before ending with Coratina. 

After the olives are harvested by hand they are brought into the Tokara Olive Shed where they are gently cold pressed using centrifuge to release the oil from the fruit in the state-of-the-art Pieralisi extraction plant.  

After extraction, the oil is settled in steel tanks for two months, before being drawn off the sediment for polishing, a delicate filtration that removes any remaining sediment, and bottling. No chemicals are added, nor is there additional processing to extract the maximum oil from every olive. The unused pips and olive flesh are composted down and reused on the estate ensuring zero wastage.

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