The French call it terroir; loosely translated, "the taste of a place". The way that fine wines owe much of their flavor, body and character to the particular patch of ground in which the grapes grew, so too can olive oils express the complex individuality and intangible essence of their home soils. This is what makes Lebanese olive oils so special.
Lebanon's mountainous topography and diverse weather patterns have allowed local olive farmers to take advantage of countless distinct microclimates, individual regions that may be no more than a single grove in size and yield an olive oil that is unlike any other in the world. The Phoenicians, an ancient seafaring people who inhabited what is now known as Lebanon as far back as 1550 B.C., understood the value of these disparate soils and pioneered processes that were respectful to them. Their legacy can be tasted to this day in the robust flavors of Phoenicia's Extra Virgin Olive Oils.
Along with a wealth of one-of-a-kind soils in which to grow, Lebanese oils makers stand apart for what they grow. Because Lebanon as a nation prefers fragrance, flavor and health over yield, and because very little of the national product is exported, farmers choose to grow predominantly ancient local varieties of olives. These millennia-old varieties are fickle, may produce wildly different yields from year to year and require the watchful eye and experienced training of true olive oil masters, but the reward is an oil that is pungent, harmonious and remarkably deep.
Lebanese olive oils encompass a broad range of flavors and profiles, varying by region and time of harvest. Olives harvested while still green and fairly unripe complement their soft, vegetal taste with a peppery finish, while the pressing of mature black olives produces oils with a lingering sweetness. Other flavors found commonly in Lebanese olive oils include green tomato, almond, apple, artichoke, herbs, green fruit and green beans.
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