Portuguese Olive Oil
The olive tree originates from Asia Minor (Turkey) and grew spontaneously in the Mediterranean.
The Greeks and the Romans were keen producers of olive oil and experts in discovering uses for it, not only in food but also as a basic product in traditional medicine, hygiene and beauty treatments.
For many centuries the olive tree was only found in a few countries: Spain, Greece, France, Portugal and across North Africa.
It was the Romans who brought the culture of olive trees groves to the Iberian Peninsula. Although olive trees in Portugal date back to the Bronze Age, they only became thoroughly spread in the country during the 15th and 16th century. Learn more about Portuguese olive oil here: https://www.visitportugal.com/en/content/olive-tourism
Olive Oil producing regions in Portugal
In Portugal there are six PDO zones (Protected Designation of Origin) for olive oil production. The PDO classification means that the olive oil was made according to the rules stipulated in the specifications handbook, which includes the varieties of olives, harvest conditions and transport to the press, processing conditions and final product properties.
Moura Protected Designation of Origin
The region of Moura, on the left bank of the River Guadiana, is well known for its olive oil production and Protected Designation of Origin. Olive oil from Moura is widely used and recognised for its quality and it is no coincidence the popular saying: “As fine as Moura olive oil”. The olive oil of this region, made from the Cordovil de Serpa, Galega Vulgar and Verdeal Alentejana olive varieties, is very fruity, bitter and spicy with a yellowish green colour.
Alentejo Interior Protected Designation of Origin
On the other bank of the River Guadiana, in the olive oil region of the Alentejo Interior, the combination of a very particular soil and climate creates a natural environment that is ideal for olive trees. This is a region with a wide range of soils all rich in calcium and potassium, strongly influencing the type of groves and the olives’s properties.
The olive oil is golden or greenish in colour with a fruity aroma of ripe and/or green olives and other fruit, such as apple and/or fig which lends a sweet taste to the oil.
North Alentejo Protected Designation of Origin
The olive oils of North Alentejo, with its origins in some of the Evora’s parishes in the districts of Estremoz, Borba, Reguengos de Monsaraz to Elvas, Campo Maior and Portalegre, mostly stems from the Galega Vulgar olive variety, as well as the Carrasquenha and Redondil. Those olive oils which combine the fruits of the different varieties with overtones of apple and other ripe fruit are usually quite thick with a golden and sometimes greenish colour.
Ribatejo Protected Designation of Origin
The dominant olive variety in the Ribatejo region is the Galega Vulgar, at times combined with the Lentisca variety but only in Torres Novas. This is the region of sweet olive oils.
Beira Interior Protected Designation of Origin
This region boasts the Galega Vulgar, as well as the Bical and Cordovil varieties of Castelo Branco, in the Sub-Region of olive oils of Beira Baixa, which delivers olive oils of complex aromas and tastes. Further north, where the Galega Vulgar is sometimes replaced by the varieties Carrasquenha, Cobrançosa, Carrasquinha and Cornicabra, we find the olive oil sub-region of Beira Alta bordering Rio Douro’s lands where a large number of varieties can be found.
Trás-os-Montes Protected Designation of Origin
In the Bragança district, the most common variety is the Negrinha de Freixo. Here is where the Trás-os-Montes PDO begins, from Alfandega da Fé, Vila Flor to Valpaços and Murça, also including Mirandela, where the Madural, Cobrançosa and Verdeal Transmontana olives grow and where the Terra Quente climate and schist soils produce very delicate and complex olive oils with a very nutty aroma. These are extremely balanced olive oils with rather sweet, green, bitter and spicy tastes.