At Althaea we don’t aim for mass production of olive oil, neither we offer a luxury or premium olive oil. Althaea’s olive oil is an authentic product which reflects a philosophy based in a balanced way of living inherited from our Cretan culture. We are paying homage to our traditional knowledge and practices at each stage of cultivation and harvest of the olive tree.
Our family's olive groves are placed in a "Rock Garden" of South Eastern Crete at a high altitude of 650 metres and 700 metres respectively. A place of rugged beauty characterized by its pure and dry air as well as its proximity to the Libyan Sea of the Mediterranean. This place with its microclimate and a well drained, air permeable and moderately acid soil, welcomes everyday the first beams of sunlight in the area offering the olive trees long hours of sunshine throughout the year.
There are some very good organic extra virgin olive oils in the market. However, in their majority, they are the result of mono-cultivations of olive trees. Fields that are designed, for easy and time efficient harvest that yield the maximum quantities of olive oil from trees. These cultivations serve as industrial plantations with little care for the environmental impact and the art of crafting olive oil. For years at Althaea, we have been following a different route. A route that is harmonized with Nature and respects the rich local heritage.
Our trees are part of an integrated cultivation, surrounded by indigenous wild herbs and trees.We have chosen not to use any artificial substances to fertilise the soil, or pesticides to protect the trees from natural infections. During its lifecycle, this flora naturally develops a fertile soil and creates a natural habitat for micro fauna. Therefore, only reserved quantities of oil are produced each harvest season. We respect this process as it is an integral part of the culture of the rural Cretan societies and because we believe it results to a healthier and of delicate flavour olive oil.
Althaea’s extra virgin olive oil is extracted from Koroneiki variety; a native variety in the Cretan landmass which along with the ideal climate for the olive tree produces an oil of the finest quality. Althaea's olive oil combines the features of the Koroneiki variety: exceptional taste and being extremely rich in polyphenols(responsible for the antioxidant properties of olive oil in Cretan diet), with the high level of fruitiness, soft bitterness and low pungency, ideal for escorting fresh vegetables and herbs in salads, without interfering in the taste of them.
We aim for a balanced extra virgin olive oil. As such, aiming for extreme characteristics(extremely low acidity) is not an end-in-itself; we pursue your culinary pleasure as well. And it is through our devotion for what we are doing and our unique practices, that we can craft an olive oil that is a communion of still excellent characteristics and organoleptic properties. For 2016 we have chosen to harvest our trees when olives where ideally ripped. This resulted to a robust fruity oil, slightly bitter, with very low acidity (0.18). Yet, due to the aforementioned parameters of our land and the way of cultivation we have achieved our two aims: very low K232/270 values and very high levels of phenolic composition. For us the combination of these values depicts the true quality of olive oil: How prone it is to alternate its characteristics due to exposure in environmental conditions of air and light. We are striving to achieve every season an olive oil that resists to change by its nature.
Althaea's olive oil comes every year in reserved numbers which depend with the seasons. Olives are processed the same day of the harvest and the olive oil is cold extracted(<27C). Then it rests naturally for a specific period of time in small stainless steel pots under vacuum, back in our high altitude cellar. We could filter the olive oil, yet a significant amount of accompanied constituents would be lost .
We then are carefully bottle the oil by hand and each one is numbered and signed by hand. The bottle is then placed in a gift package made with high quality Italian Fedrigoni paper to ensure its stays away from light exposure. It is accompanied by a laboratory-class borosilicate glass beaker and a 10-minute-to prepare culinary suggestion based in Cretan diet.
Althaea's olive oil is a reserved, high quality product true to its nature.
Made diligently and with love for those who appreciate a small authentic family story and a paragon of olive oil.