What about Nino?
The organic farm “Case di Latomie” lies along the hills of a gentle slope towards the crystal clear sea of the ancient Greek colony of Selinunte. The inheritance of the Greek civilization is not only visible through the magnificent temples in the area but it is believed that Greek people introduced the first wild olive trees in the western area of the Mediterranean Sea. Greeks had likely come in contact with olive trees from Persia and Syria, and olives were initially used to derive a kind of combustible paste used to light up their cities. Over the centuries they had perfected their agricultural knowledge and started to methodically cultivate the olive tree. When the Greeks were cast out of Sicily by the Arabs, olive plantations remained as part of their heritage.
We met Nino first at a specialized Olive Oil fair. He is in his late fifties, with a grey mustache and beard, and small, lively brown eyes that often fire up during a conversation. While most producers remained sitting behind their counter that displayed small glasses for visitors to taste their olive oil, Nino was standing and enthusiastically entertaining a small audience, describing the properties of his oil. He was not letting all visitors try his oil, he was effectively evaluating whether each person was “worthy” of the tasting. Surely, he caught our attention, and yes, we did get to taste the oil!
He is a proud, confident producer, who knows extremely well the history of his area. Nino explained us how the link to Greek civilization goes further than the origin of olive cultivation. Inside the property, 35 acres in total, there are several centuries-old olive trees, one especially is over 1200 years old. Some of these trees are completely melded with the tuff rock, giving unique and extraordinary shapes. This is the same rock type used by the Greeks to build the temples in the area.
One of the most distinct factors of the Centonze Oil "Case di Latomie" is its sweet taste, although it is produced from an olive variety (Nocellara del Belice) well-known for its pungent and bitter taste. The secret of this sweetness comes from the natural tuff rocks, where the olive trees are growing.They take minerals from those tuff rocks and transfer them to the olives, giving the oil its particular taste. “There are three main taste characteristics of any olive oil”, Nino continues. “Bitterness, spiciness, and sweetness. The best oil would have an equal amount of each of them, standing in the centre of this ideal taste triangle.” His voice grows to a confident exclamation as he concludes casually “This is where Casa di Latomie oil stands, at the centre of that taste triangle”. Casa di Latomie oil is produced exclusively from cold pressing within 8 hours from harvest, with centrifugal separation, natural settling and decanting. No chemicals nor heat are used.