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Tasting Notes - Australian Olive Oil

Green & Gold ... Olive Oil Tasting Notes

The samples covered some of Australia’s top brands and included oils from both the 2001 & 2002 vintages. What was immediately obvious was that the new release oils from the current year were distinctly fresher, cleaner, more fragrant and with better bight & balance. This is not to say that the older oils were bad, just broader in flavour and softer on the finish. The first run oils usually contained more extract, many being distinctly cloudy which proved to be no detriment to quality, and actually added to the textural complexity of the oils.

The overall quality was top class with oils showing distinct personality that must equate to the different areas, varieties grown and time of picking. Oils should be used in different uses that suits their style and structure: soft oils being best with sharper dishes, strongly flavoured oils with full flavoured ingredients, and sharp oils to match or lift sweeter foods. It is amazing the number of times we have been complimented on a simple salad … a compliment that can only be a result of a beautiful & well-matched oil.

Compared to the tasting in the mid-nineties, the overall assessment is that Australian oils are now of world class and showing a strong consistency through the range tasted. As the industry develops, more and more oils will become available. It will still be years before we will be able to recognize different terroirs across Australia but there will be much enjoyment in the learning process. A new and very exciting industry indeed.

The best from our tasting are listed below. Because you should now be buying current vintage oils, only 2002 results shown.

Note: Vintages are shown where they are stated on labels, otherwise in brackets.


2002 Olio Bella Kurunba “Soft & Fruity”

Although described as “soft & fruity” on the label, the defined fruitiness, banana leaf character & almond characters have us class it here. The palate is indeed softer & fruity with a long warming finish showing only a trace of pepper.

2002 Pecas Hahndorf “First Run” Frantoio

A highly distinctive oil that is certainly not lacking in varietal character and stood out in the range for its defined green grassy notes with strong pepper & spice from the nose through to the back palate. Softer fragrant notes develop with time. This is a very distinctive dressing oil of some style.

VOG Victorian Olive Groves “Early Harvest” Frantoio (2002)

An elegantly packaged, single varietal (the highly regarded Frantoio) oil showing nutty, bay leaf & pepper aromas in harmonious balance that fills the palate with soft fresh nutty flavours finished with a zing of pepperiness. Classy.


Ellen Grove (2002)

Cloudy green gold. Soft, ripe oil with spicy, baked apple flavours on the full palate. This is a lovely lingering oil with great balance of olive and subtle spice with a gentle bite on the finish. Multi-purpose oil but great with tomato-based dishes and salads.

VOG Victorian Olive Groves “Harvest Blend” (2002)

Bright golden colour indicating riper (black) olives at harvest. Scents of grilled nuts & green apples dominate and show on the palate which is soft and rich with a nice balancing trace of pepper on the finish. General purpose oil.

Toscana Olive Plantation(packed 02)

Softer oil with aromas of cut grass, green apple, olive and pepper. Quite "thick" and full palate but nicely balanced by spice and lingering peppery finish.

2002 Bird in Hand “Early Harvest”

Very cloudy green gold. Spicy aromas of cooked green apple and peas. Soft but thickly textured oil with delicate green fruity flavours and a subtle spicy finish. Perfect for dressing a simply cooked fresh fish.


2002 Joseph “First Run”

Surprisingly clear green gold after last year’s cloudy delight. Ripe & spicy with aromas and flavours of fresh banana & hazelnut in a lingering oil that remains soft on the finish.

2002 Cobram Estate “First Cold Pressing”

Bright green gold. Fresh & delicate olive, citrus blossom & baked apple characters, the palate is elegant and fine with a subtle touch of pepper but remains soft on the finish.

2002 Olio Bella Kurunba “Soft & Fruity”

Thick, cloudy oil that lives up to its label: Ripe pear, banana leaf & fresh almond dominate a complex palate that is soft & full, while the rounded finish shows a trace of warmth & bite.

VOG Victorian Olive Groves “Black Harvest Manzanillo” (2002)

Bright bronze colour. A broad, earthy oil with aromas of cream cheese and grilled nuts; quite a “sweet” oil from fully ripened olives that imparts a creamy texture. Perfect on sharp salads or piquant dishes.

Use & Abuse of Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Buy the freshest latest vintage oil (vintage is around the middle of the year so new oils should be on the market by August/September). Check for vintage or an extended use by date to be sure.

Store oils in dark cool places, never above the stove or in a sunny window; as this will cause rapid deterioration. Despite some of the elegant packaging it is not meant for decoration.

Use oils freely – EVOO is actually good for you – and makes great dressings for meats and fish as well as vegetables. Don’t horde it like a precious items … it does deteriorate over time - the finest young oil will be best suited only for cooking when it’s two years old.

Understand the styles and use them suitably for best enjoyment.

Most of all … enjoy.

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