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In the agri-food sector, Foundations and Consortia are aggregate legal forms, intended for cooperation between companies (usually small and medium-sized) that are part of it for the protection and promotion of high-quality products.
In Europe, especially in countries with a high enogastronomic vocation, such as Spain and Italy, foundations and boards have a significant history and importance. In these two countries, olive oil foundations and consortia are also of considerable importance insofar as they enhance the peculiarities of specific territories that offer extra virgin olive oils with unique characteristics.
The production of Extra virgin olive oil is especially privileged between the provinces of Ciudad Real and Toledo, surrounded by the Sierra de Toledo, with very favorable climatic conditions. Here, originates a particular variety of olive: the Cornicabra. This cultivar is known worldwide by experts for its extraordinary peculiarities.
The Montes de Toledo Oil PDO Foundation was created with the aim of safeguarding and disseminating the culture of this particular type of production. A safety for the consumer, a guarantee seal for lovers of quality extra virgin olive oil.
Enrique García-Tenorio, director of the Foundation explains the history and characteristics of the PDO.
When was the Foundation of the PDO Oil Montes de Toledo born and with what goals to achieve?
The history of this initiative dates back to the early eighties of the last century, when a group of producers began to work to obtain the recognition of the designation of origin for the oils produced in the Montes de Toledo area from the variety cornicabra. After many efforts, at the end of the century the support of the public administrations for the initiative was obtained, the foundation being constituted in June 1998 with a founding board in which the entire sector of the area was represented, including olive growers, oil mills and packers.
From that moment, the first steps of this Foundation were directed to the drafting of the specifications of the appellation of origin and the application for registration in the Community Register of Protected Appellations of Origin, which was achieved through Regulation (CE ) 1187/2000 of the Commission, of June 5, two thousand.
In addition, to this objective, according to the purposes established in its statutes, the Foundation aims to give prestige throughout the world for the virgin olive oil produced in the geographical area of the Protected Designation of Origin “Montes de Toledo”, in the provinces of Ciudad Real and Toledo.
What are the peculiar characteristics of the Extra virgin oils that belong to the PDO Aceites Montes de Toledo?
The main differentiating characteristic of our EVOOs is given by the exclusive use of the cornicabra variety for its preparation. This variety, which is produced almost exclusively in our region and reaches its maximum expression in the Montes de Toledo area, is characterized by its very high content of polyphenols and balanced composition of fatty acids with high levels of oleic acid, so it gives instead of very healthy and extraordinarily stable oils, as well as very interesting from the sensory point of view.
On the nose, they present an intense fruity with a first impression of great freshness, where the olive leaf and the freshly cut grass are combined with other aromatic plants such as thyme, rosemary and basil. Similarly, we can find reminiscences of green apple, tomato, along with other aromas such as citrus, arugula and artichoke.
The entry into the mouth is friendly, leaving a certain sweetness on the tip of the tongue and passing quietly to the back where an elegant bitterness of moderate intensity begins to appear. The sensation of spiciness in the throat appears in its right measure, fitting perfectly with the fruity and bitter values to give rise to a remarkable sensation of balance and absence of astringency.
Of great persistence, these sensations accompany us for a long time in the mouth, at the same time that each of the aromas that we perceived on the nose, intensely green and fresh, return through the retronasal route.
What are the characteristics of the region PDO Aceites Montes de Toledo?
The Montes de Toledo are a low-altitude mountain range that runs east to west, separating the valleys of the Tagus and Guadiana rivers. It is a set of mountainous alignments of certain continuity whose culminating point is the Rocigalgo massif (1,447 m.), Separated by wide longitudinal depressions crossed by tributaries of the Tagus and Guadiana rivers, where a continental Mediterranean climate prevails with large thermal oscillations. between stations, varying the mean values of the maximum temperatures of 40ºC and -1ºC for the minimum ones. The pluviometry is scarce, varying between 400 and 500 mm. yearly.
These extreme conditions have meant that the selection made by the inhabitants of the area, multiplying the specimens that best responded to them since ancient times, gave rise to the cornicabra variety. Perfectly adapted to this environment, cornicabra also withstands winter frosts as well as high temperatures and intense summer drought, promoting at the same time, as a natural defense mechanism, the development of high content of polyphenols in the fruit, among which oleocanthal stands out, of which cornicabra oils tend to present values well above the average.
What security does your certification offer to consumers?
Since its creation, the Foundation has had as one of its main objectives to offer the consumer the maximum guarantees of compliance with the requirements of the specifications, so our structure was proposed to meet the requirements of the UNE 45011 Standard and achieve accreditation , ours being the first Spanish regulatory council to achieve it, in 2003 and having maintained it since then and updated to the ISO 17065 Standard. This accreditation provides sufficient international confidence about the technical capacity of the certifying body, its independence and impartiality, also showing itself as an effective tool when dealing with foreign markets.
Product certification is carried out after an exhaustive audit of the processes and facilities, as well as the self-control system of each supplying company, which includes taking samples for subsequent analysis, both physical-chemical and organoleptic. In addition, the control body carries out periodic audits and has established a surveillance plan that covers all stages of the commercial life of oils, including taking samples for their control. At Montes de Toledo we are not satisfied with offering oils that comply with the legislation. For this reason, all certified oils are tested by the Foundation’s organoleptic analysis laboratory, accredited according to ISO 17025, to verify that they are absolutely free of defects and that they conform to the characteristic profile of Montes de Toledo oils.
Believing in the value of spreading the culture of Extra virgin olive oil, how does the Foundation promote the PDO, even outside the territory?
The other main objective of the foundation, in addition to guaranteeing the origin and quality of certified EVOOs, is to make them known throughout the world, which is why since its creation it has carried out an intense promotion work at national and international level that has led to participate in the most important fairs in the sector, from the Fancy Food in New York or San Francisco to Foodex in Tokyo or Food & Hotel China in Shanghai, through SIAL or Anuga, among others.
Numerous seminars, commented tastings, product presentations or tastings are also regularly carried out by the foundation’s team, both throughout Spain and in different cities in Europe, Asia or America. These actions are aimed at different groups, from distributors and importers to hospitality schools, specialized journalists, gastronomic associations, or consumers in general.