Introducing a small-batch EVOO from Northern Portugal

Introducing a small-batch EVOO from Northern Portugal

It seems like everyone in the olive oil world knows Marije. Ambitious, but decidedly artisan, she represents a new wave of olive oil producers who are increasingly improving the whole industry while keeping it small.

This is a story about friends.

In the early days of our olive oil adventures, we stumbled around Portugal meeting some of the most exciting women coming up in the space.

That led us to Ana, our second producer ever and one who makes multi-award winning, high-polyphenolic extra virgin olive oils. But that same trip also led us to Marije.

And of course it would, because if you’re looking to learn about olive oil in Portugal and you don’t go visit Marije—you’re missing out.

Marije makes up a new batch of producers. They’re young, they’re fearless, they’re fed up, and they’re often ex-city folks who’ve traded in a desk job for that of a full-time farmer.

But back to the point about friends.

Meet Marije, Gui, Edgar, & Andre.

Marije is originally from the Netherlands, but met her Portuguese husband, Gui, while working in hospitality down in the South of the country.

They eventually found themselves running a farm-to-table restaurant alongside their small plot of trees from Gui’s family near Coimbra, in central Portugal.

While Marije and Gui make beautiful, delicate oils from their original groves, they haven’t stopped there.

Small-scale farming is difficult. It’s fraught with hardships, particularly as the climate affects harvests.

So, they also look after some ancient trees and other groves in the area, but this latest project is their most ambitious yet.

To help offset bad harvest years, Marije and Gui went in on the purchase of an eight-hectare grove with their friend Edgar in the North of Portugal.

Now with another friend, Andre, they work together on a collaboration that helps offset years when their other family groves might not have great yields, but also importantly creates more interesting, complex blends of a range of terroirs and varieties. 

Marije goes on to explain: “Together we are stronger. A collaboration between two farms and three families is something unique. As small producers—helping each other is the way ahead.”

Discovering Trás-os-Montes.

When we first started looking into high-quality oils in Portugal, one region kept popping up.

Located in the parish of Santa Maria de Émeres in the municipality of Valpaços, this grove sits in a privileged geographic situation between the cold-land and hot-land, making the perfect conditions for extra virgin olive oil production. 

It also sits in a valley with almonds, fig, cherry, and pear trees around—not only increasing the biodiversity, but supporting other products that Edgar and Andre sell.

Marije goes on to explain more about their little corner of the world: “There is a water reservoir with fish in it. The kids love to come down and feed the fish and run around the tank. The little shed hides a few bats that hunt the insects.  In summer, our family likes to drive up and camp in the grove. The night sky in the north is truly magical.”

How to use this olive oil

As always, the best way to understand an oil is to get to know it. Put it in a little cup, swirl it around, and have a smell and a sip. (See more on how you should properly taste EVOOs.)

Let the aromas you smell guide you as to what to make with this oil.

This oil sits in our “every day” range of extra virgins—waiting to be poured over a range of dishes.

What the oil tastes like

This oil comes in more delicate than the peppery Spanish you just had in our Club for March and April, but that’s why we feel it’s perfect to welcome in the delicate spring flavours as they make their way into warmer plates.

The smell hits you with fresh herbs, and a bit of tomato fruits, but also those fruity aromas you see when the olive starts to ripen. In this case, it’s banana, some citrus, and nutty elements like almonds.

On the palate, you’ll feel a soft bitterness with medium-spiced pepper hit at the end that lingers for a moment. 

How to pair this EVOO...

Fruits. Put this on fruits this month.

From yoghurt and berries at breakfast, to desserts with fruits like strawberries. It’s also got us dreaming of using it to make and drizzle over banana pancakes.

On the savoury side, it’s natural pairing for new potatoes and over spring greens.

You see, that’s the thing about an oil that’s in this range. It brings such a breadth of things to try it with.

From Marije: “Great for grilling and oven baked dishes with potatoes, vegetables, red meats, salted cod.  Also perfect dipper for dark breads and strong cheeses and drizzing over fruits such as oranges, strawberries & pineapple.”

That ought to get you pouring…

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