Spring has sprung. To celebrate the arrival of the new season, Stellenbosch wine and olive estate Tokara has introduced a brand-new vintage of Extra Virgin Olive Oil. On a crisp Spring morning on the foothills of Simonsberg mountain, we were treated to a taste of olive oil master Gert van Dyk’s exquisite blends.
A hallmark of an unusually long harvest, each blend boasts a feast of concentrated flavours. The smaller crop harvested this year allowed for more precise, selective (hand) picking at the olive fruits’ optimal ripeness. Tokara’s Extra Virgin Olive Oil range comprises five blends spanning the complete olive oil taste spectrum from mild to more robust.
Frantoio, a medium to intense oil with green grassy tones, was the first variety we sampled. This single-variety olive oil, Tokara says, is the most important olive variety in Italy. A few moments spent with our hands wrapped ’round the cup – as to warm up the oil to bring out the olive oil’s aromas – containing this full-flavoured and spicy blend, the following small sip of this cold-pressed blend delivered a green and bitter note, complete with a nutty aftertaste, on the palate.
Stemming from America, the Mission is a mild and gentle single variety Extra Virgin Olive Oil, delicately flavoured with a finely balanced grassy character with a walnut aftertaste. This Extra Virgin Olive Oil, Tokara says, is an all-round oil.
Said olive oil master and operations manager at the Olive Shed Gert van Dyk, “By picking and pressing our Frantoio and Leccino at just the right time, we captured the true herbaceous and nutty flavours of these Italian varieties.” Tokara’s single variety and blended Extra Virgin Olive Oils are ideal for any dish – tossed through crisp salad leaves or when cooking a roast, among others – to intensify the flavours, enhance a recipe’s other ingredients and bring a dish to life.
Carefully blended to bring together the best characteristics of various olive varieties, Tokara’s Multi-Varietal and Premium Extra Virgin Olive Oil blends offer intense flavours, with notes of olive leaf, rocket, artichoke and herbaceous character. “The dark green tomato vine aromas and intense artichoke flavours will elevate the taste profile of our Premium Blend this year,” says Van Dyk. “I can just imagine how this oil will enrich hearty minestrone, not to mention osso buco.”
Completing the range, Tokara offers an unfiltered Extra Virgin Olive Oil, a unique multi-varietal blend specially selected for its purity and unbridled flavours. This artisanal blend is available on tap from the Deli and is beautifully bottled.
A highlight of the event was not only tasting the Extra Virgin Olive Oils by themselves, but tasting it in a trio of deliciously made dishes, including lamb osso buco and, for dessert, vanilla gelato with crystallised ginger and an olive oil and almond sponge cake, drizzled with Extra Virgin Olive Oil. As Van Dyk mentioned in his presentation, the Extra Virgin Olive Oil only enhanced the creaminess of the gelato.
“Making fine olive oil is all about capturing the goodness of the fresh olive in the bottle,” says Tokara. It is an art necessitating expertise and passion. It is an art Tokara has mastered since the new millennium. A duo of gold medals were awarded to the Premium Extra Virgin Olive Oil and Estate Blend at the 2021 South African Olive Awards, with Tokara’s remaining Extra Virgin Olive Oil offerings recognised with silver.
Visit the Tokara Delicatessen for complimentary olive oil tastings and purchases. For a more structured, guided olive oil tasting experience, visit the Tokara Tasting Lounge. Bookings are advisable by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or calling 021 808 59 00. For online purchases visit https://www.tokara.com/product/tokara-frantoio-extra-virgin-olive-oil/