Spain is the main producer of olive oil. Despite this and despite the fact that it is a key product in our gastronomy, when it comes down to it, for many consumers it is still a great unknown.
In fact, it is still difficult to distinguish the differences between olive oil, virgin and extra virgin at the time of purchase. Well, things are getting more complicated, because now we have added another category or label for EVOO to the list of concepts: biodynamic olive oil.
If it sounds more or less familiar, it is because for years some wine cellars have also embraced this idea, halfway between a technique and a philosophy. And it has as many advocates - or rather believers - as disbelievers.
"Biodynamic agriculture recovers traditional farming techniques, those of our ancestors, and is committed to an ecosystem of its own on the plot of land in which pesticides or external elements cannot be used, while also trying to attract the energy of the cosmos to the earth", says Finca la Torre, whose extra virgin olive oil is certified biodynamic.
In contrast to these somewhat abstract concepts - above all that part about the energy of the cosmos - the truth is that these ideas are translated in a very obvious way in the olive grove of this Malaga oil mill.
Anyone who has ever seen one will know that it is usually a clear field between trees and no other plants around. Biodynamic agriculture, on the other hand, is committed to leaving the land unploughed and untreated, so it is common to find olive trees surrounded by lots of herbs, plants and, as they say, life.
Considered a step beyond organic farming, the rules of biodynamics do not only apply to the field and, in this case, the production of olives. It also "involves restrictions on chemical products in terms of the cleaning of the machinery that is so important in the production of a good EVOO", they point out.
But is all this really noticeable in the oil? For many buyers this is the key question. The producers of Finca la Torre have no doubt about it: "They are extra virgin olive oils that are cleaner in the nose and mouth," they say.
We have had the chance to try some of the single-varietal oils produced by this company (they work with arbequina, hojiblanca, cornicabra and picudo) and the truth is that they are sensational. Fresh, clean and with an aroma and flavour in keeping with the personality of each variety. Good EVOOs are often referred to as olive juices and that is possibly the best definition.
With a decade of history, this relatively young company boasts of being one of the pioneers in terms of sustainability in this sector. Now organic and to a lesser extent biodynamic production is making its way into the commercial discourse, but 10 years ago it was a rarity.
However, those who don't believe in the energy side of things can rest assured that the more earthy side is just as interesting, if not more so. In the end, it is a production far from intensive and where attention is paid to details such as the commitment to early harvesting - less profitable, but of higher quality - or the fact that only the amount of olives that can be milled at that moment is harvested each day.