I was so privileged to be invited to taste the award winning olive oils from Tokara. Gert told us everything that we should know about olive oils and the flavours in the oils. We paired the olive oils with fresh herbs out of Tokara’s brand new greenhouse. It was a memroble day for a foodie like me.
TOKARA, the family owned wine and olive oil farm on the outskirts of Stellenbosch, has stepped up its cultivation of fresh produce with the establishment of a new hydroponic Greenhouse.
Growing fresh produce for the restaurant and delicatessen has always been the aim at TOKARA which already has a well-established vegetable garden. The new Greenhouse situated near the popular Deli can now supply the TOKARA chefs with a daily crop of seasonal herbs and salad leaves as well as tomatoes, cucumbers and strawberries. The Greenhouse is open to visitors to the Deli, especially children who can experiences first-hand where the vegetables and greens on their plates are grown.
The cultivation of fresh vegetables, herbs and salad leaves is a natural extension of the TOKARA’s extensive production of award winning olive oil from the thriving olive groves on the rolling foothills of the Simonsberg.
TOKARA enjoys recognition as one of South Africa’s top producers of world-class extra virgin olive oil. The farm’s top performer from the 2019 vintage is the Multi Varietal Extra Virgin Olive Oil, which won a Gold medal at the SA Olive Awards.
A blend of Frantoio, Leccino and Mission varieties, the Multi Varietal EVOO has elegant aromas of fresh green olive fruit, wild rocket and butter lettuce that follow through on the palate, ending with a walnut and spicy finish.
For TOKARA’s olive oil master and operations manager, Gert van Dyk, making a fine olive oil is all about capturing the goodness of the fresh olive in the bottle, a task he pursues with vigour and passion: “A good oil is made on the tree, and at TOKARA I’m lucky enough to be hands on from the olive groves right through to the final pressing stage.”
Under his watch, the hand-picked olives are pressed within 24 hours of being harvested to safeguard their unique flavour profiles.
TOKARA’S olive oil journey began in 2000 when co-founder Anne-Marie Ferreira decided to produce single variety oils that would set them apart from the handful of South African olive oil producers at the time. TOKARA focuses primarily on Tuscan varieties, each selected for a distinctive character and flavour profile.
The farm produces four cold pressed extra virgin olive oils – two single variety oils: the delicately flavoured Mission and the full-flavoured and spicy Frantoio, as well as two more intense multi-varietal blends.
Frantoio, the most important olive variety in Italy, is the foundation of TOKARA’s full-flavoured blended olive oils. It’s a medium to intense oil with a nose of green grassy notes. The palate is sublime and well balanced between green and bitter notes, with a nutty aftertaste.
The Mission variety, which stems from America, is mild and gentle with a finely balanced grassy, herbaceous character and a walnut aftertaste, making it an all-round oil.
The Multi-Varietal EVOO and Premium EVOO are carefully blended to bring together the best characteristics of the various olive varieties. You’ll find notes of olive leaf, rocket, artichoke and a lovely herbaceous character.
TOKARA also has a refillable unfiltered extra virgin oil on tap. This unique artisanal multi-varietal blend redefines the meaning of untouched as it was specially selected for its purity and unbridled flavours while the oil was flowing from the olive press.
“We choose not to refine this special olive oil in order to retain its fresh and cloudy appeal and make it available on tap to visitors to our Deli,” says van Dyk, who recommends using the oil within a couple of months and then returning to TOKARA for a refill.
This unfiltered blend has aromas of olive leaf, pea shoots and green tomato leaves supported by a full flavour spectrum including artichoke, rocket, green olive, mangetout and walnut, finishing with a tingling of black pepper.
“When tasting olive oil one looks for fruitiness, bitterness and piquancy – but all the senses come into play – from the aromas and the actual taste to how it feels in your throat,” explains van Dyk.
While TOKARA’s single cultivar or blended Extra Virgin olive oils are delicious simply tossed through crisp salad leaves, Van Dyk is passionate about their versatility in any creative kitchen.
“Olive oil isn’t just something to be drizzled over a dish at the end, it should really be seen as an important ingredient,” he says. “A good olive oil brings out the flavour in food. It intensifies and enhances all of the other ingredients in the dish.”
Visit the TOKARA Delicatessen for complimentary olive oil tastings and purchases. For a more structured, guided olive oil tasting experience, visit the TOKARA Tasting Lounge. Bookings are advisable. Call Tel: 021-8085900