The extra virgin olive oil from the Amargiotakis family in the wine region of Crete—our OG, the one that started it all—is back.
The story goes likes this: Some 20 years ago Michael met Maria on a boat between Santorini and Crete. They become instant friends.
After many visits over the years, they became like family (Michael even became the godfather of Maria's son).
Michael and Sarah then used to travel to Greece during the olive harvest, and after several years of bringing back litres of olive oil in their suitcase and sharing it with their friends in the hospitality world in London and the US—they decided to properly bring this oil over to the UK.
Now, there's a lot more background to this story—mainly inspired by the what they saw as an unfair commodity system and wanting to reward farmers who were producing to a higher standard and in a sustainable way—but, in short, the oil was also simply delicious.
Here's why it stood out from all the other oils from Greece we found on the shelves of the UK:
- It was an "early harvest" for the region, meaning the olives were picked when they were quite green on the trees.
- The variety is rare—Lianolia. Similar to a Koroneiki, the main variety in Greece, but typically from the Corfu area and known for higher polyphenols, grassy aromas, and some other lovely garden notes.
- On the patchwork of groves from Maria, they had prioritised biodiversity and farming more in harmony with nature.
While in years past, this has been our most popular and main oil, due to the low yields cause by the climate crisis, this oil will only go to our subscribers and for the month of January only.
As a note on how our subscriptions work, by subscribing to become a Citizen, you get access to delicious and exclusive EVOOs that you would never otherwise get to try from small-batch producers. And this one is no exception.
Introducing Maria & Dimitris
The life of the party, a legendary host, the queen of dolmades (Greek stuffed vine leaves), and our dear family friend.
The only daughter in a family of four children, Maria's parents farmed a bit of everything, though specialised in producing wine and the local spirit, raki.
Her youngest brother went on to become an award-winning wine maker with his wife, but Maria kept to her olives.
When her husband Dimitris entered the picture, he introduced a much more natural approach to farming their groves, doing low or no tilling, removing chemicals, and adding in other types of fruit trees and herbs for them to enjoy.
It's their groves, so full of life, nutrients, and beauty, that set the bar for the sort of land stewardship we look for with other farmers now.
How to use this olive oil
The best way to understand an extra virgin olive oil is treat it like you would try a nice wine. Pour a little cup, swirl it around, have a smell, and then take a sip. (See more on how you should properly taste EVOOs from our sommelier.)
This also helps guide you on what it might pair nicely with based on the aromas that come up.
What it tastes like
Like in previous harvest, this year's batch will give the immediate aromas of fresh-cut grass. It's got bright green notes coming through, along with tomato leaf and a finishing note of banana that represents some of the sweeter olives as they started to turn darker at the end of the harvest.
This year, since the olives struggled so much from the heat and drought, they actually produced more polyphenols. So with that, you're doing to get a more bitter and peppery bite than last year, though still lighter on the bitter scale than some of our oils like the Croatian, for example.
What to pair it with
This is still a favourite every-day pourer, though we think it goes particularly well this time of year over roasted potatoes with a bit of oregano, in marinades with meats like lamb, or with stewed tomato dishes.
It's also gorgeous with honey over cheese or creamy desserts.
Want to try this oil? It's in our subscriptions for the month of January only.
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