When it came to finding a top notch extra virgin olive oil, I turned to Zingerman's, the nationally renowned delicatessen in Ann Arbor, Michigan. I asked the retail manager, and good friend, Gauri Thergaonkar for a list of highlights, and one of the first producers she mentioned was Olio Taibi.
Olio Taibi is a single estate producer based in Montaperto, Sicily. The Taibi Estate is situated near the Valley of the Temples, one of the worldâ€™s most important archeological treasures and a UNESCO World Heritage site. A family run business, Olio Taibi is the epitome of artisinal, specializing in only two monocultivar olive oils: Nocellara and Biancolilla, both of which originated in Sicily. The estate is organically farmed, the olives entirely hand-picked and immediately cold-pressed after harvest, with all bottling done on site. When I asked Gauri what made Olio Taibi special, she noted of the oil, â€œIt stands out amongst all the oils available in the market. It's an extremely well made, monovarietal which is representative of a region with high tipicity [or unique organoleptic identity]â€¦â€
For some, olive oil is olive oil and buying a bottle of Colavita is as far as one need travel. But if you like your oil to take you on a journey, then Olio Taibi is the producer for you. The Nocellara is characterized by a supple texture, citrus notes, and a hint of pepper, making it an ideal accompaniment for cheese, or to use in preparing a full-bodied dish. The Biancolilla is a softer, more earthy oil, though when consumed alone or with bread, it packs a peppery punch that can sneak up on you.
Due to a unfavorable heat wave last year, the 2007 Biancolilla could not be produced. However, you can contact Zingerman's Mail Order (tel. +888-636-8162) to purchase a bottle (or several) of the Nocellara for $30 for a half-liter.