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As counter intuitive as it might sound, Giovanni Bianchi is an Italian who decided to make olive oil in Greece.
Working in Rome as a computer programmer, he felt “the physical and spiritual need to do something to put me in harmony with nature.”
Acting upon it, Bianchi decided in 2004 to buy land with 2 houses and 250 olive trees in Gargalianoi, Messinia, in the western Peloponnese, Greece.
This beautiful view of green olive groves contrasting with the deep blue sea and the picturesque island of Proti in the background is an idyllic location for a summer home where he could take his family.
There he set himself on producing the best olive oil for his family. In other words, “the highest amount of polyphenols combined with a harmony of aromas and flavors.”
He emphasizes, “I am not a company but only a small and passionate producer!”
However, destiny had other plans for him.
Looking for an objective way to assess the quality of the olive oil he produces, he participated in 2016 in the prestigious New York International Olive Oil Competition (NYIOOC). The result was stunning: Argali won a Best in Class award – the first time ever for an olive oil from Greece.
Followed, a series of awards including a Gold at the BIOL international competition for organic extra virgin olive oils and a Best Varietal Olive Oils award at the Athena International Olive Oil Competition, making his olive oil one of the top 25 organic olive oils in the world in 2016.
This recognition confirmed that the path that he has undertaken is the right one.
In fact, when he first saw the olive grove with some of the trees exceeding 100 years old, Bianchi reports that he “immediately decided that I would never interfere with a balance that has lasted for centuries”.
In the past, trees were not irrigated and the Koroneiki variety is perfectly adapted to the dry climate and rocky terrain. He insists on organic cultivation, manual grass cutting instead of using a tractor “in order not to harm or kill the turtles and snakes,” and “total renunciation of irrigation” out of consideration for “the already overexploited aquifers.”
Without irrigation, “the production is very limited, but the trees give very small olives that are much less vulnerable to the olive fly, since in the summer they become dry and hard.”
While the usual olive oil yield is approximately 10 liters per tree, his trees produce only 2 to 5 liters of the purest green extra virgin olive oil. Quantity is deliberately sacrificed to produce the best quality oil with the lightest ecological footprint.The soil is fertilized only with olive leaves retrieved from the olive mill.
Argali is certified organic by BioHellas since 2007.
Harvest time usually takes place end of October when the olives are starting to turn into purple. At this point, olives are at their peak in terms of both polyphenols and flavours.
They are pressed within 12 hours of harvesting to ensure extremely low free acidity. Pressing takes place at 27 degrees Celsius so that the oil maintains its aroma and a large amount of polyphenols. From this micro-production for family use, only surplus is sold.
This is an olive oil intended only for those who appreciate every drop of it.