EVOO Revi-oo

I promised you a review of a nice bottle of extra virgin olive oil, and I have decided upon the newest edition olive oil from Mariano Sanz. I got this Spanish bottle from the gourmet selection at Zingerman’s Delicatessen in Ann Arbor, Michigan, and it was only just over $30 for half a liter. You can buy it here.

The website indicates that it is un-pressed, meaning that it is unrefined and even appears cloudy. This indicates a pure and delicate finish, even likened to a flower. I will be testing this for myself below and rating it on a scale of 0 to 5 OLIVES.

Plain... on spoon: I found this plain oil to be very delicate, with the flavors being intricate and very earthy, almost grassy. It immediately reminded me of arugula or another high-character salad green, but had little peppery nodes at the end and buttery nodes at the beginning. It seemed to be a very fragile but versatile oil. Rating: 4.0 OLIVES

...on bread: I dipped a very fresh, whole grain bread in to the oil, due its light texture and rich grainy flavors. This oil actually did well standing up to bread, with the flavors actually becoming a little more prominent with the grains. Rating: 4.0 OLIVES

...on arugula leaf: This is where I expected the oil to taste best, and it did, perfectly adding the right amount of buttery flavor and texture to a few leaves of greens, but also adding a depth of flavor to the salad due to the oil’s own earthy/grassy flavors. Rating: 4.0 OLIVES

With red wine vinegar... on spoon: This was one of the worst pairings with the oil. The red wine vinegar completely overpowered the delicate flavor of the oil, even at the two to one oil to vinegar ratio that I used. The vinegar was way too sour in this context and didn’t bring out any of the oils flavors. It only washed them away. Rating: 1.5 OLIVES

...on bread: The bread actually helped this pairing, as it masked a lot of the vinegar’s tartness and let the oil come through more. I was surprised that such a light flavor could come through the bread while the vinegar’s flavor was diminished by the bread. Maybe the oil and bread just have a special flavor connection. Rating: 2.5 OLIVES

...on leaf: In this pairing, the vinegar still overpowered the flavor of the oil, but not quite as much as by itself. The arugula helped make the overall taste pretty palatable, but this trio didn’t make the oil seem special. Rating: 2.0 OLIVES

With white wine vinegar... on spoon: This vinegar pairing was far different from the red wine variety. The much lighter white wine vinegar definitely did not over-mask the olive oil’s flavor. You could taste the oil with just the slightest bit of tartness, and it brought out the buttery elements of the oil even more. Rating: 3.5 OLIVES

...on bread: The white wine vinegar was actually too light when paired with the oil and bread. It was completely drowned out and I could only taste the oil on bread. In this sense, it tasted fine, but the vinegar did not add anything to the combination. Rating: 3.0 OLIVES

...on leaf: In the salad setting, the vinegar and oil were able to both be tasted, and the three components were able to complement one another quite well. The tang of the vinegar with the peppery and earthy flavors of the oil and arugula really made it a sumptuous yet simple bite. Rating: 3.5 OLIVES

With balsamic vinegar... on spoon: Balsamic vinegar may have the most depth of flavor of all vinegars, but that doesn’t mean it will complement other deep flavors. With the Sanz oil, it did. This was the winner of all the vinegar pairings, as this really felt like a rich meld of flavor. It had the zing of the red wine vinegar, but didn’t wash out the olive oil’s flavor. Plus, it really brought out the oil so that its taste lingered on my palette longer than it had before. Rating: 4.5 OLIVES

...on bread: The combination above was robust enough to handle bread and still contain the winning flavor elements of their mixture. It was very tasty, and as the bread didn’t have much of an effect, it didn’t need to. Rating: 4.0 OLIVES

...on leaf: The best salad bite of the tasting, this combination dressed the greens perfectly and created a very rich overall flavor. The vinegar made the oil sharper and the oil made the vinegar more buttery, while the greens made the entire bite taste earthy, and the dressing made the greens delicate and rich. This is a salad I would love to eat for my dinner later. Maybe with some salt and pepper, grilled vegetables, a sharp cheese and perhaps a few slices of olive oil grilled polenta. Rating: 4.5 OLIVES

Overall impression: The Sanz oil was very impressive. It held up well in a range of scenarios and only faltered when it was up against some tough flavors. Due to its lightness, I’m not sure it would hold up very well in a grilled meat or vegetable, but in a fish it would probably be very nice. It is a winner for salads and likely in dips as well. Its deep but very light flavor can do a lot of complementing and can make things more earthy and buttery, but as a main star, I’m not sure this would be the oil I’d choose for my first and only “shot” of olive oil. I’ll keep looking but enjoy this in other contexts in the mean time.

Overall Rating: 3.5 OLIVES

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