Old growth: 8,783 trees
New growth: 4,965 trees
The name (from the Spanish for “hoja”, leaf, and “blanca”, white) comes from the colour of the leaf’s back side, making the tree look bright, and, from a distance, silver. It is found in Andalusia, to be precise in the east of the province of Seville, the south of Cordoba and all of the north of the province of Malaga. It accounts for about 16% of the Andalusian olive groves. It is used both for black Californian style table olives, due to the firm texture of its flesh, and for oil production.
Althought the size fluctuates a great deal, the drupe is normally large to thick and weighs 4.3 grams on average. It is an almost perfect sphere with a high flesh-to-pit ratio, about 8. The drupe can also withstand cold weather well. It flowers in the first two weeks of May, with most blossoms at the beginning of the second week. It ripens quite late, between the end of November and the end of December, and once it is ripe it resists being picked, so harvesting is somewhat difficult. Its oil yield is low, with an average between 17-19%.
From a physical – chemical point of view, it has a very balanced composition of fatty acids, with saturated acids that are relatively lower than in the rest of the oils of other varieties. Its composition is ideal for dietary purposes. As its stability is not very high and it oxidises easily, this oil should be kept out of the light and stored without excessive oxygenation.
From an organoleptic point of view, it has an enormous range of flavours, but the most common are sweet at the beginning of the tasting, with a fresh grassy fruity aroma, a slightly bitter flavour of green fruit and other fruits that sometimes recall a fruit cocktail, slightly peppery in the throat and a final almondy aftertaste.
New growth: 12,619 trees
This is one of the best known Spanish cultivars. Although it has been planted in the provinces of Saragossa and Huesca in the community of Aragon, it originated in the locality of Arbeca (Lerida), where the name comes from, and it is widespread in the provinces of Tarragona and Lerida, both in the community of Catalonia. The tree is found in olive groves or mixed with other crops, mainly vines, and sometimes grows on the edges of plots.
It is short, oval and almost symmetrical, with a low flesh-to-pit ratio of 4.6, and as it is small, weighing about 1.9 grams, mechanical harvesting is difficult. However, it is a greatly appreciated cultivar as it starts producing early, with an average ripening period between the second week of December and the second week of January. It is highly productive and has a goog oil yield, about 20.5%, which makes it one of the varieties with the highest oil extraction percentage.
These oils have an exquisite flavour with traces of tomatoes and vegetables gardens, and the aroma reminds us of fresh artichokes. They are also fruity with a certain exotic aroma. A fresh apple smell, accompanied by a certain mildness and sweetness, identifies the oils, with a final aftertaste of green almonds. They are also very fresh and young oils which, because of their composition, are a little more delicate than other varieties as far as oxidation is concerned, which is why they must be kept in the dark at a low temperature to guarantee protecting them for a longer period of time.
These oils have been appreciated for their quality for centuries, even though their production usually fluctuates greatly due to climatic conditions. Virgin olive oils of the arbequina cultivar are dense and pour well and very greatly from one area to another, as well as within the same area, in successive years. When harvesting is started, the olives are very green and this characteristic is reflected in the organoleptic properties of the oils. The olives are not nomally left to become completely ripe. To describe the average characteristcs of these oils, we could say that they are fruity slightly green and more or less bitter, peppery and sweet.
They are, therefore, very balanced oils, with greener flavours (lead), bitter and peppery at the beginning of the harvesting season, and sweeter at the end. We should also mention the almondy (green almond) aorma and flavour and the way they pour smoothly, which is a very pleasant sensation when tasting them.
New growth: 1,686 trees.
The olive is called picudo (which means “prominent peak”) because of the shape of the drupe with a pointed and curved end and a noticeable teat. It has many other names, but the one it is given in Luque, a town in the south-east of Cordoba, where it is called “pajarero” (bird trapper) is curious. According to legend, because the oil is so sweet, when it is ripe, the birds peck at the fruit. This cultivar is widespread in the provinces of Cordoba, Granada, Malaga and Jaen.
The drupe is black when ripe and it is characterised by being the second largest of those that are used to obtain oil. Its average weight is about 4.8 grams. The fruit-to-pit ratio is high, about 6.3. It ripens between the fourth week of November and the end of December and the oil yield is good, but not as good as the picual, with figures of around 20%. It is an excellent choice for table olives, both green and Californian style.
It composition of fatty acids is almost the same as the lechin cultivar. As far as oxidation is concerned, the oils are included in the delicate range. Its organoleptic characteristics are very good, with unbeatable balance and sweetness, with no hard flavours and they pour very smoothly and are light, sometimes reminding us slightly of exotic fruits, apples and almonds.
New growth: 4,217 trees.
This cultivar is the second in importance in the number of cultivated hectares, but the third in production. It originated in Mora de Toledo, and its cultivation area covers the provinces of Toledo and Ciudad Real in the Community of Castilla la Mancha. Its name (“one-horned goat”) comes from the characteristic horn-shape of its fruit.
The olive is elongated and rather bent, asymmetrical, plump and flat at the back, with a horn-shaped belly. It is of average size and weight (about 3 grams), but has a high oil yield, about 19% and a high flesh-to-pit ratio (5). The drupe ripens late, usually starting in the last week of October and finishing in the first week of January. As it is strongly resistant to being picked, mechanized harvesting is difficult.
When it is obtained from riper olives, at the end of the harvest, there are normally different flavours and textures that remind us of exotic fruit, like avocados. Cornicabra oils are fruity and have a noticeable balance between sweet at first, the bitterness of green leaves and a medium-intense peppery flavour.
Their texture is smooth and velvety. They are stable oils because of their high content in monounsaturated fatty acids. The balanced composition of essential fatty acids, high content in oleic acid and minor components, which produce excellent aromas and flavours, make it especially appropiate for dietary purposes.