Chef Robert Wiedmaier travels the globe in the quest for perfect ingredients.
Where Olive Oil’s “Extra” is in Everything but Production Time
Follow the gently rolling hills in Toledo, Spain—the country’s capital until the mid 1500s—and you will come across the Cotanillo estate, home to 62,000 olive trees set on some 540 acres of land. The thick summer air is punctuated only by the pulsating buzz of cicadas and the occasional gurgle of olive oil in a beaker or flask.
Because housed in the midst of this idyllic provincial scenery is a very modern on-site laboratory that Valderrama built to incorporate a scientific basis to the healthful properties in its extra-virgin olive oil. It is these kinds of lengths to which the company has gone that have quickly ensured its position in the international gastronomic scene.
Aceites Valderrama has been producing extra-virgin olive oils for under 10 years, but you will find them in the hands of some of the most renowned chefs around the world. As Chef Wiedmaier remarks: “I did a tasting and fell in love with it. It is so clean on the palate, while a lot of other olive oils can convey a bitterness in them. It changed my way of thinking about olive oils from Spain.” In fact, Spain tops world production for olive oil, and the Valderrama estates (they also have one in Cordoba) have elevated its status as producing some of the best. Run by José Ignacio Millán Valderrama, whose family has been cultivating olives since 1853, these two olive plantations are considered among the most innovative in terms of integrated olive oil production.
In addition to cutting-edge cultivation methods—including controlled watering and fertilization systems—the “extra” secret in their olive oils lies in the time it takes from harvest to extraction. With mills located on the property, fresh olives, harvested at peak, go from tree to mill within 10 minutes. From there, they are gently washed in a custom designed, integrated cleaning system, another testament to Valderrama’s commitment to innovative technology, and immediately cold-pressed in two-phase stainless steel equipment that separates the oil in under 30 minutes. The entire process takes less than 45 minutes!
The cold extraction itself has been subject to meticulous scrutiny in Valderrama’s laboratory, where 66°F was deemed the optimal top temperature for retaining the oil’s nutritional properties, aromas, and other natural characteristics. Once processed and decanted for 48 hours, the oil is stored in a precise “freshly made” state to prevent oxidation and loss of vitamins and antioxidants until bottled upon demand.
All Valderrama extra-virgin olive oils are monovarietal, allowing the perfect pairing of specific oils to each dish. Flavors are enhanced not only by the olive oil but also by the purity of the story behind it.