Still life of cruets with extra virgin olive oil. Juan Manuel Sanz / © ICEX
Extra virgin olive oil is considered one of the world's great gourmet products, thanks to its exceptional gastronomic quality and its health-giving properties. Spain is the world's main producer and exporter of this outstanding product. Over recent years, the Spanish olive oil sector has undergone a revolution with regard to product quality. Proof of this dynamism can be seen in the 21 Protected Designations of Origin (PDO) with seven awaiting completion of the EU recognition process. And these developments have come together with increasing diversity and enhanced quality.
Olive oils that are covered by a Designation of Origin are necessarily extra virgin oils. When placed on the market, they have the following characteristics:
- Type A. Maximum acidity 0.4º. Intense fruity aroma and flavor, with a slight touch of bitter almond.
- Type B. Maximum acidity 1º. Pleasant, sweet, ripe fruity aroma and flavor.
The color of extra virgin olive oils varies from greenish yellow to golden green.
Spain has very varied relief and climate, and this diversity is reflected in the many olive-growing areas. The combination of factors such as soil type, olive variety and climate gives rise to "terroirs" that offer fairly standard characteristics for olive growing and result in extra virgin olive oils having common organoleptic characteristics. And PDO recognition entails inspection, certification and protection of the end products. Spain has a large range of native varieties. Some are grown only in small, limited areas. Others are grown widely, such as Picual, which accounts for almost 50% of Spanish olives. The names of the varieties often change depending on the region where they grow. Some olive oils with PDO are based on a single variety (e.g. Cornicabra in Montes de Toledo) whereas others are multivarietals, with the PDO covering a local variety (e.g. Cornezuelo, Mollar, Pico Limón) combined with other, more common varieties (e.g. Picual, Arbequina, Cornicabra, Hojiblanca) and even, in some cases, a combination of strictly local varieties (as with the PDO Baix Ebre which combines Morruda or Morrut, Sevillenca and Farga).
The list of Spanish PDOs continues to grow. Alongside the pioneers - Les Garrigues and Siurana in Catalonia, and Sierra de Segura and Baena in Andalusia - new PDOs have now been granted in other parts of Spain, such as Castile-La Mancha, Aragón, the Balearic Islands, La Rioja, Extremadura, etc. In other cases, the process of recognition is still under way. There are also new PDOs in Andalusia and Catalonia covering olive oils from different growing areas. These developments point to the outstanding progress made by Spanish olive olive oils in recent years, and help oils from traditional olive-growing districts to retain their special characteristics through the application of strict quality criteria. The map of the Spanish olive oil PDOs displays an expanding mosaic of olive-growing territories over much of Spain.
|- Aceite Campo de Calatrava PDO||- Aceite Campo de Montiel PDO||- Aceite de La Alcarria PDO|
|- Aceite de Mallorca PDO||- Aceite de Monterrubio PDO||- Aceite de Tierra Alta PDO|
|- Aceite del Baix Ebre-Montsiá PDO||- Aceite del Bajo Aragón PDO||- Aceite La Rioja PDO|
|- Antequera PDO||- Baena PDO||- Estepa PDO|
|- Gata Hurdes PDO||- Les Garrigues PDO||- Montes de Granada PDO|
|- Montes de Toledo PDO||- Montoro-Adamuz PDO||- Poniente de Granada PDO|
|- Priego de Córdoba PDO||- Sierra de Cadiz PDO||- Sierra de Cazorla PDO|
|- Sierra de Segura PDO||- Sierra Mágina PDO||- Siurana PDO|