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Fruity and mild vs. herbaceous and peppery olive oil

by Gogo on June 15, 2009

in Olive oils

If you prefer green hills and meadows instead the scarce mediterranean vegetation and pine trees, visit the northern or central Istria.

Central Istria
Hills and meadows near Grdo Selo

If in addition you would like to try some unusual extravirgin olive oil go to Krasica, a small village just few kilometers from medieval town of Buje. From Buje take the curvy road passing through the hills covered with vineyards and olive trees (direction Pula), and enjoy a stunning view on the Adriatic on horizon. When you arrive in Krasica on your left there is house of Nino Činić, a local farmer whose olive oil has entered into prestigious italian extravirgin olive oil guide “Extravergine”.

We called Nino in the morning to schedule an olive oil tasting in the afternoon. When we entered a nice and cosy tasting room, located in the ground floor of his recently renovated old house, he immediately asked if we are are thirsty and started to open a bottle of malvasia. “The oil is nice to taste, but first you all need some refreshment” he said. That was a nice start.

Nino Činić is opening a bottle of Malvasia

Nino offered us some malvasia to start…

In the meantime, on the table there were three oils waiting for us. To feel the real aromas and flavors of the oil, instead of dipping a piece of bread in the oil, it is better to use a small glass. Fill in some oil, cover the glass with a napkin, hold the glass in hand and turn it slowly so that the oil gets heated up. In that way the aromas will be released to the air more quickly. Then, stick your nose below the napkin and try to recognize what your nose feels.

Nino Činić, Oleum Vitae

…and three olive oils to taste, together with some sheep cheese

The first oil was a blend of Leccino, Pendolino and Frantoio, two typical Tuscan olive varieties now widespread in Istria. It is of light green color, with aromas of fresh grass or hay and radicchio. Mild, medium fruity, of low degree of pepper aftertaste and bitterness. Nino explained us that this varieties lost a lot of bitter and spicy flavors that were present in October, immediately after they were produced.

Price: 0.5 l – 73 kn (10 eur)

The second oil contained mostly Buža, an indigineous Istrian variety that can be recognized by its yellow color and transparent appearance. There are fresh aromas of white flowers, hay and nuts. The flavor is nicely sweet and equilibrated, creamy, just slightly spicy and bitter.

Price: 0.5 l – 73 kn (10 eur)

We concluded the tasting with a real delicacy, a true expression of northern Istria. The last oil was made of 100% Bjelica (it. Bianchera), an olive variety indigenous in this region, resistent to strong wind Bura and low temperatures. It is of dark green color, almost fluorescent in its appearance. The oil is dense, with strong aromas of fresh green grass and olive leaves, green apple, radicchio and aromatic herbs. The flavor is strong, more herbaceous and vegetable than fruity, dominated by bitter and pepperish notes (especially in the finish) that are nevertheless well equilibrated and pleasant. Definitely an oil with a character, so one must be careful in pairing it with food of milder aromas and flavors. I see it excellent as a condiment over freshly cooked pasta or rice, on warm bruschette, with steamed vegetables, in various vegetable soups.

Price: 0.5 l – 73 kn (10 eur)

This oil should be also good for your health since the spicyness and bitterness are a sign of high concentration of polyphenols, molecules that have antioxidant characteristics and may reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease and cancer.

Oleum Vitae, Krasica - olive oil storage room

The olive oil is stored in stainless steel tanks…

Oleum Vitae, Krasica

…and then bottled in 0.5 L bottles

At the end, Nino kindly showed us the dark and cold room where the oil is stored in stainless steel tanks. He reminded us that the olive oil, unlike wine, should be consumed as young as possible since during the time, due to the unavoidable oxidation, it only looses its exciting aromas and flavors and becomes a dull boring everyday oil.

Many thanks to Nino! We will be back here in October, when the oil is as young as it can be.

Oleum Vitae

OPG- A. A. Nino Činić

Krasica 40

52460 Buje, Croatia

phone +385 (0)52 776 164

mobile phone +385 (0)91 529 5521


View Oleum Vitae – extravirgin olive oil of Nino Cinic in a larger map

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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Clem July 7, 2009 at 03:32

I love it when you describe the oil (or wine), it makes me wanna try it. Especially the herbaceous taste with pepperish notes !
Otherwise the picture reminds me the oil tasting we did at your place with Californian olive oils.
I will recommend your blogs to Swiss friends of my brother's who'll come to Istra this summer, so they know which restaurants to go to!


Dr. Gogo July 7, 2009 at 03:58

I am also learning how to describe an oil or a wine to common people, trying to avoid the trap of being to technical. It is not easy but it you cannot be wrong if you just express your emotions. More emotions you feel, the better is the product.

Oh yes, I remember that tasting! Californian oils were really pale in taste and aroma in comparison to the Istrian ones. I think the problem was that Californian oils were produced from machine-picked olives, and this can be done only when olives are really mature (all black), so the oil becomes flat and boring. Moreover, the oil was more than 1 year old.


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