Harvest season is a time of great expectations, and at Tokara, the acclaimed family owned Stellenbosch wine and olive estate, the excitement comes round twice a year. Just as the grape harvest comes to an end, it is time to gather the bounty of the rows of olive groves on the rolling foothills of the Simonsberg for the new 2022 Tokara Extra Virgin olive oils (EVOO).
Stretching from mid-March well into June, olive harvesting is a busy time for Tokara’s olive oil master, Gert van Dyk, who gently extracts the goodness from the diverse selection of olive varieties as they begin to ripen one after the other. By all accounts, the 2022 olive harvest is one of abundance both in the size of the crop as well as the variety of flavours.
“Besides being one of the largest crops to date, we are seeing a lot of different flavours in the olives that we are pressing. This will give us a multitude of flavour profiles once we get to the blending of the various oils we produce,” says van Dyk, operations manager at the Tokara Olive Shed, who attributes the profusion of flavours to the longer than usual ripening period this year.
Tokara EVOOs span the complete olive oil taste spectrum from mild to the more robust. Five cold pressed EVOOs – two single variety oils: the delicately flavoured Mission and the full-flavoured and spicy Frantoio, as well as two more intense multi-varietal blends, and an unfiltered blend – make up the collection.
Frantoio, the most important olive variety in Italy is a key component of Tokara’s full-flavoured blended olive oils. It is a medium to intense oil with green grassy tones. The palate is sublime and well balanced between green and bitter notes, with a nutty-almond aftertaste.
The Mission variety, which stems from America, is mild and gentle with a finely balanced grassy, herbaceous character and a macadamia aftertaste, making it an all-round oil.
The Multi-Varietal, a medley of Frantoio, Mission and Leccino, has an olive leaf and herbaceous character with a nutty aftertaste, while the Premium blend of Coratina and Frantoio leans more towards a rocket, artichoke and walnut flavour profile. Both are carefully blended to bring together the best characteristics of the various olive varieties.
Tokara also has a refillable, Unfiltered EVOO that redefines the meaning of untouched. Available on tap at the Deli, this unique artisanal multi-varietal blend is specially selected for its purity and unbridled flavours as the oil flows from the olive press.
Unfiltered and unrefined, all the fresh and cloudy appeal of this special oil is retained. The presence of the wax residues, which are usually filtered out, allow all the amazing flavours of the oils to be experienced in their freshest and purest form.
“This is the one oil in our portfolio I would not recommend for cooking. Rather use it to bring fresh ingredients to life, or drizzle over cooked lamb or baked fish to enhance the dish with layers of fresh flavours,” explains van Dyk.
The Mission single varietal EVOO is the most versatile in the Tokara range. Its fruitier, softer character make it the perfect choice for sauces such as aioli or for coating salads before adding the balsamic vinegar or lemon juice. This is also van Dyk’s first choice for pan-frying.
The other more intense oils with a stronger flavour profile are good as finishing oils to add flavour by drizzling over meaty dishes. They also make excellent marinades, add the wow factor over oven-roasted vegetables and are absolute perfection for hummus.
For van Dyk, the ultimate food experience is the unexpected pairing of Tokara EVOO and ice cream: “The creamy texture coupled with the fruity, grassy, nutty and peppery notes of the EVOO open a whole new world of flavours as an alternative ice cream topping, and it’s good for you too!”
Learn more about the farm’s olive oil journey by participating in a structured, guided EVOO tasting in the Tokara Tasting Lounge. Bookings are advisable by emailing email@example.com or calling Tel: 021-8085900. For online purchases visit https://www.tokara.com/product/tokara-frantoio-extra-virgin-olive-oil/
More about Tokara EVOOs
Throughout the classical wine-producing regions of the world, there is a natural association between the olive grove and the vineyard. At Tokara this celebrated relationship continues to thrive. Tokara’s olive oil journey began in 2000 when co-founder Anne-Marie Ferreira decided to produce single variety oils that would set them apart from the handful of South African olive oil producers at the time. Tokara focuses primarily on Tuscan varieties, each selected for its distinctive character and flavour profile.
What began with four hectares of olive trees on Tokara’s steep slopes has grown to over 22 hectares, planted predominantly with the classic varieties of Frantoio, Coratina, Leccino and Mission. Depending on the season, the harvest usually begins in mid-March, and continues until late-June. The varieties usually ripen at different times starting with Leccino, followed by Frantoio, then Mission before ending with Coratina.
After the olives are harvested by hand they are brought into the Tokara Olive Shed where they are gently cold pressed using centrifuge to release the oil from the fruit in the state-of-the-art Pieralisi extraction plant. After extraction, the oil is settled in steel tanks for two months, before being drawn off the sediment for polishing, a delicate filtration that removes any remaining sediment, and bottling. No chemicals are added, nor is there additional processing to extract the maximum oil from every olive. The unused pips and olive flesh are composted down and reused on the estate ensuring zero wastage.