The producer Francesco Gradassi is a pioneer of early harvesting. His extra virgin olive oil called “L’Affiorante” is packed with polyphenols
Viale Firenze, Campello sul Clitunno (Pg) – 0743.521338
Average price: Dop Umbria 12 €; Novello 15 €; Affiorante 18 €
by Emanuela De Pinto
What makes a food business a point of reference? Its credibility. Umbria and olive trees have an ancient relationship, and Azienda Agricola Marfunga, in Campello sul Clitunno, has got deep roots. The owner today is Frandesco Gradassi, and before him it was his father Ettore. They both focused on quality as a starting point.
The olive trees and the mill. Forty hectares, 13.000 plants between Campello sul Clitunno, Spoleto and Trevi, up to 1.200 meters of altitude. The main variety is the Moraiolo tree (75%) but there are also Frantoio (15%) and Leccino (10%) varieties. The azienda comprises more than 1.000 secular trees, very resistant to winter frosts. You can only really “understand” this oil if you take into consideration the beauty of this landscape and the mastery and patience of the harvesting process done by those strong men. The trees are planted on small strips of land that sits amidst the rocks. The groves are fascinating, but inaccessible to those that who don’t respect them. The Azienda Marfuga knows this – that’s why the owner Francesco Gradassi calls his products “extreme olive oils”, taking care of every single plant each day of the year.
The trees are certified organic: no chemical treatment are used, only those allowed in organic agriculture. Ettore, the father, worked in a bank but he never gave up his passion of producing olive oil, and in 1976 he built the first family mill. In 1994, at the age of 28, his son Francesco has taken over the family business, transforming it in one of the most important companies in Umbria.
The Novello. The only one in a transparent bottle, it’s the first oil of the year. Not filtered, deeply green, produced with olives harvested before they are mature. This production is limited to the Fall season. It’s a must on bruschetta or on chickpeas and lentil soup.
The Umbria DOP Colli Assisi-Spoleto. Produced with olives harvested between Assisi and Spoleto, it’s a blend of Moraiolo, Leccino and Frantoio. The climate, the location and the calcareous soil gives the oil a fruity, fragrant and herbaceous flavor. It won the golden medal at one the most important competitions for Olive Oil, the national Ercole Olivario competition, in 2013.
“L’Affiorante”. A unique product. 100% Moraiolo, a limited production of 5.000 bottles per year. It’s handpicked in October from a selection of the best trees in terms of quality and sun exposure. This oil has a lot of character, is hot and bitter, with hints of herbs, artichokes and almonds. It is packed with polyphenols, natural antioxidants and allies against cancers (600mg per liter, against 100mg of industrial extra virgin olive oils).
Trace Bio. The organic production. Cold pressed olives, a delicate flavor. Great to make creamy mayonnaise and sauces. Finally, the classic Extra Virgin, from olives that are ripe. Elegant, well rounded, with a bitter after taste. Very versatile for cooking. The mechanized mill arrived in 2002 in Campello sul Clitunno. It has an electronic panel control to check the temperature. It produces an average of 50.000 liters of extra virgin each year. At the company it’s possible to have guided tours and to learn tasting techniques.
The procedure. The olives are harvested between October and November, by hand or with a “comb”. They are stored in pierced boxes, to avoid the formation of moulds, and are processed within 12-24 hours. Once in the mill, the extraction begins. After the organoleptic analysis, the olive oil is filtered and bottled, or stored in cans, and it begins its journey towards consumers attentive to quality, to deli shops and to the most prestigious restaurants. It travels from Umbria to the rest of Italy (there are more than 500 selected shops), to Europe (Germany, Holland, Belgium, England) all the way to the United States (in exclusive shops in Manhattan, New York), Canada, Singapore and the Arab Emirates.