Les Costes an estate oil which is a very special unfiltered arbequina olive oil from the same producer of L'Estornell. This differs in that the product is unfiltered, comes from trees over 200 years old, has limited production each year and differs from L'Estornell in its flavor profile. It can almost described as clarified butter!
Les Costes is an estate property of the Vea family in the province of Lerida, Catalonia Spain. Catalonia is one of the Kingdom of Spain's seventeen autonomous communities, and comprises four provinces: Barcelona, Girona, Lleida (Lerida) and Tarragona.
The trees, land and climate...
This particular part of their total estate was bought by Don Domingo Vea Santclement in the year 1942 and originally contained approximately 350 olive trees from the Arbequina variety. Through the years more acres have been bought on the contiguous ground today includes 3250 olive trees of the same variety--Arbequina. The trees in this particular estate average over 200 years old with some being more than 500 years old! These prized Arbequina trees, set upon a hill that was once an ancient forest, live in the rich mineral makeup of the ancient lands. The Arbequina olive originated in Spain and in particular in this region of Spain. These Leridian arbequina trees are considered to be the original from where all others have come!
Les Costes distinguishes itself for it's difficult to access small terraces which makes farming very hard. Rains are scarce in this Catalonian area and the winters can be harsh. Temperatures range from very hot to very cold throughout the year. The resulting olives on these trees are relatively small averaging only about 20 kilos per tree. To obtain a liter of this oil, ten from twelve kilos of olives from these trees are necessary. No chemicals whatsoever are used in the cultivation of the olive trees, no pesticides, no insecticides, no chemical fertilizers are used. This oil complies with the most rigorous of biological standards.
The severe conditions these trees live through each year--tremendous temperature ranges , the lack of rain, the difficult to farm land however results in an olive that, as Gerard Vea (5th generation family) says, " has great character"! Limited production from these trees does not mean limited quality. The toughness results in extraordinary olives and of course extraordinary olive oil. The trees are constantly watched by the staff to decide when the olives are ripe for harvesting. It was the fathers and grandfathers of these same workers who have watched the same trees for generations. When these experts feel the olive is ripe, the collection or harvesting is done with great care, trying not to jeopardize the quality of the oil. Strokes or cuts in the olive would accelerate the oxidation process or even fermentation of the olive, with disastrous consequences on the quality of the oil.
The olive oil....
The olives are cold pressed in clean conditions and very soon after they are harvested top maintain very low acidity. Low acidity is an essential factor for the oil to be more flavorful and better tasting. Mr. Veá has introduced state-of-the-art techniques, while keeping the most rigorous traditional methods of cultivation and selection of the olive. He follows the traditional family "obsession" that only the best olive oils are able to bear the name VEÀ. Les Costes is a complex unfiltered Arbequina olive oil with a thick silky texture with a fresh nutty aroma. It has a big ripe complex yet mild flavor with persistent nuances of dried fruit and almonds with a mild peppery finish with a slight chocolate return. It is great to use over grilled fish or vegetables or alone with the right loaf of bread.