Photo by Nicholas Coleman
Coleman Collection #13
Frantoio, Moraiolo, Leccino
Tuscany’s unique microclimate provides the optimal growing condition for Frantoio, Moraiolo and Leccino olives to thrive. Yet despite its distinguished reputation for quality, the region produces less than 5% of all Italian oil. This picturesque landscape is where Giorgio Franci crafts a coveted blend of Frantoio, Moraiolo and Leccino olives – all grown, harvested and cold-extracted within the zones of Montenero D’Orcia and Montalcino.
Though all olives begin their life green and ripen to a deep purplish black, different cultivars will mature at varying rates. Instead of blending oil in a laboratory post-harvest, this field blend is determined by the planting of trees themselves. Giorgio simply harvests each plot based on the overall ripeness of the grove.
Similar to grapes, each olive cultivar is unique. Olives vary in size, pit-to-flesh ratio, degree of ripening, frost resistance, oil yield and flavor profile. The signature of Giorgio’s work is the quality of fruit coupled with a special proportion of cultivars, all expertly milled. This allows multiple olives to play off of each other to create complex flavor profiles. Franci’s early harvest field blend is vibrant and dynamic with undertones of green grass, artichokes, freshly ripped herbs, balanced bitterness ending with a delayed, elongated peppery finish. Excellent for enlivening rich sauces, meats, vegetables or soups.
The most interesting area of late for Tuscan wine production has been the area in the southwest of Tuscany known as the Maremma. The inundating hills were once malaria-prone until government officials drained the area in the earlier half of the 20th century. The vineyards enjoy a Mediterranean climate with cool coastal nights and warm, dry days – ideal for grapes such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Syrah, Alicante, and Montepulciano. Given the mixed pedigree of the wines, they have loosely come to be referred to as, “Super-Tuscans.” The term technically has no legal definition, but generally refers to red wines that are structured, powerful, and tannic, and embody the earthy and nuanced flavors of Tuscany with the modern fruit profile and oak of modern winemaking. For the very best, seek out wines form the sub-zone, Bolgheri, and try producers Grattamaco, Tenuta dell’ Ornellaia, and Guado al Tasso.