Almazara Luis Herrera Aceite de Lágrima Olive Oil
Price: $17.00 (average US retail)
Producer: Almazara Luis Herrera
Appellation: D.O. Jumilla
Estate-bottled. Featured in the LA Times and Saveur Magazine and on the TV Food Network. Manzanilla and Cornicabra olives from centenarian groves grown over 2700 feet altitude - a rare unpressed version, milled with ancient granite stones. A style which uniquely combines ripe sweetness with delicate balance.
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ALMAZARA LUIS HERRERA PRODUCER INFO
Overview: Estate-bottled. Featured in the LA Times and Saveur Magazine and on the TV Food Network. Manzanilla and Cornicabra olives from centenarian groves grown over 2700 feet altitude—a rare unpressed version, milled with ancient granite stones. A style which uniquely combines ripe sweetness with delicate balance. Total production of ‘Aceite de Lágrima’ in 2006 is 4,950 half-liter bottles.
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History: Spain is a primary source for world-class olive oil, its clients including many of the top shippers from Italy and France. As in those countries, the search for great and individual wines brings one at times side by-side with comparable quality oils.
During a recent post-harvest visit to Spain’s remote Jumilla wine district we tasted an olive oil, never before bottled, which combined rich ripeness with finesse like none other in our experience. We might go so far as to compare it in style with the great Spanish red wine Tinto Pesquera. Like Pesquera and its master, Alejandro Fernández, on visiting the mill and olive groves and meeting Luis Herrera we were left with the feeling that we were dealing with a self-evident authenticity which transcends fashion to exist on its merits alone.
"Almazara" is Arabic for olive mill. Sr. Herrera’s almazara consists of three large conical granite stones (rulos) which crush the freshly-picked olives to a pulp and gradually spread the mass toward the edges of the stone platform, where it is gathered and beaten at controlled temperature. In the process of gathering the olive paste on coconut fiber mats into piles (pies), a small portion of the juice which runs free of its own weight is reserved. This Aceite de Lágrima (tears) amounts to less than 5% of the weight of the total mass. Subsequent clarification is accomplished through settling only (the "tears" are pure oil, separation by decanting is unnecessary), with a minimal filtration at bottling in late March.
The most natural processing in the world only serves to enhance the quality of the raw materials. At altitudes over 2,500 feet in Valle La Jimena, an isolated mountain valley above the town of Jumilla in the province of Murcia, a few ancient groves of Manzanilla and Cornicabra olives are maintained despite years of acreage decline in the area due to its remoteness. The altitude, an arid Continental climate (less than eight inches of rain per year) and poor, chalky-clay soils assure miniscule yields of intense, late-ripening, low-acid olives of the highest quality for oil.
The first Almazara Luis Herrera "Aceite de Lágrima" was a total of 12,000 half-liter bottles from the 1995 harvest. It was received to immediate acclaim by American food critics (see reverse). 1996 is the third consecutive drought-reduced harvest, resulting in a particularly concentrated and elegant, albeit rare, oil. 16,000 half-liter bottles have been produced.
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