Terra d'Otranto (Terra d'Otranto olive oil)
- Acidity: max. 0.80%
- Peroxides: < 14 Meq 02/kg
- Colour: green or yellow with green highlights
- Aroma: medium fruity, with a faint aroma of leaves
- Flavour: fruity, lightly bitter and pungent.
The production area of "Terra d'Otranto" controlled designation of origin oil includes the provinces of Lecce, Taranto, and part of the province of Brindisi. This area extends in an arc between the Ionian and Adriatic Seas, from the Taranto Murge and the far Brindisi slopes of the southeastern Murge, across the Tavoliere di Lecce and ending at the Serre, where the two seas meet.
EVIDENCE OF ORIGIN:
The growing of olives in this area goes back 8,000 years, but the first to begin cultivating olives were certainly the Messapii, who were probably of Illyrian origin and who settled in the Salente area in the first millennium B.C., later followed by other Greek and Phoenician colonies which spread the olive tree over vast regions of the peninsula. The Salentine peninsula, which is the southeasternmost part of Puglia, was inhabited in pre-Christian times by the Messapii, the descendants of the only Apulian line of the Japygians. They were conquered in 267 B.C. by the Romans, who called the vanquished tribe by the Latin name of "Sallentini", the Salentines. Terra d'Otranto is instead the medieval name for the Salente, as Otranto was the most important town of the entire region in the Middle Ages. Over the ages the entire region has gone through periods of splendour and decline, and olive-growing has followed these alternating periods, in the end becoming a major crop for the region's economy.
DOP Terra d'Otranto extra virgin olive oil is produced from healthy olives, harvested by hand or by machine, directly from the olive tree. The per hectare yield of olives may not exceed 12,000 Kg/ha in the specialized olive-groves for extra virgin oil, and 15,000 Kg/ha for virgin oil, with a maximum oil yield of 20%. The only extraction methods permitted are those physical and mechanical processes suitable for producing oils which preserve as faithfully as possible the particular and original characteristics of the fruit.
At least 60 % of the olives which are employed are local ("Cellina di Nardo", "Ogliarola") . Olive-growing is the area's main production sector and has a prominent role in the economy. Up through the 19th century the DOP Terra d'Otranto included the present provinces of Lecce, Brindisi and Taranto. This region has always been characterised by a great number of olives, from which a "prized liquor" was extracted. The origins of the name "Terra d'Otranto" merge with the history of olive-growing in that region, introduced in very ancient times by Phoenician and Greek colonists and, through the activities of the Basilian monks, who settled there in the 10th century, giving birth to the first flourishing market of quality oils coming from the "Terra d'Otranto".
Reference: The European Commission