Olive oil from France 2020-2021: a good start to the olive harvest for a virgin-extra olive oil that promises to be of exceptional quality!
The production of French olive oil is globally very low as it meets only 4% of the demand. The olive harvest in Provence has just begun and it looks very good in terms of quality. The olive harvesting period extends from November to February, depending on the place of production.
A 2020 olive harvest in France, characterized by quality
The quality potential of French olive oil in 2021 should be excellent. The summer has been dry and hot, the fruitiness of the olives is, as a result, intense and marked by many aromas. For the moment, the levels of ardency and bitterness are important, but they should decrease progressively to reach, with maturity, a virgin-extra olive oil in conformity with the typicity of PDO and DOC olive oils. For the moment it is still difficult to establish a real assessment because all the olive plots have not been harvested. Thus, the harvesting of olives and the production of olive oil in Provence are the result of a real know-how that is concretized by PDO designations.
In the Alpilles, the Bouches-du-Rhône, the Var, the Vaucluse, the Drôme and soon in the Alpes de Haute Provence, people are busy with the olivades, a Provençal term to designate the olive harvesting period. This olive harvest is often carried out in family in the respect of ancestral traditions. In autumn 2020, the olives from Nyons, Baux-de-Provence and from the Var are magnificent. All the conditions seem to be met for a 2021 French olive oil of exceptional quality.
A harvest organization complicated by the 2nd containment period.
To preserve the quality of their olive oil, olive growers must organize themselves. Some plots of olive trees are very exposed to the sun and have mature olives for the harvest. Others located at higher altitudes will be harvested later, hoping that prolonged heavy rains or frost will not deteriorate the crop, which would lead to a decrease in yield.
With the containment, the organization of the harvest has become more complicated because there are many non-professional olive growers. These small olive growers collect their olives manually with great care and bring their production to the mills. The olive harvest is sometimes carried out on olive trees that are more than 500 years old and require regular maintenance and the removal of the weight of their olives. For small olive growers and in periods of containment, it is necessary to be able to move to plots sometimes far from home and make the journey to the mill. In the Var, for example, amateur olive growers have obtained a derogatory authorization to move. Thus, this possibility of harvesting in the midst of a health crisis is a real relief for oil mills and olive growers, after a low-yielding 2019-2020 harvest.
The 2020-2021 table olive harvest in France:
For the table olive harvest in Provence, enthusiasm is the order of the day… But as with olive oil, it was necessary to take into consideration the olive varieties and expected maturity. In the Bouches du Rhone, Var and Alpilles, the harvest of table olives has begun, from mid-September for the confection of green olives: Picholine and Lucques. For the black olives, the harvest is carried out later, in October and November. The harvest is meticulous and manual because it is a question of selecting the most beautiful olives, for their size and their degree of maturity, before the change of color. The day of the harvest, the olives are received by the confectioner. The olives are sorted manually, then they are de-bittered, according to the personal recipe of the confectioner. Finally, the olives are rinsed several times with clear water before being put in a brine of water and sea salt.
The harvesting of olives in Provence, the production of a virgin-extra virgin olive oil from France and the confectionery of table olives translate an authentic art of living marked by ancestral traditions, transmitted from generation to generation. It is a story of men and women animated by the same passion, that of the land of the olive tree!