The PDO oil Monti Iblei
Sicily, for historical, cultural, and above all geographical reasons, has been and is still an important place of genetic differentiation. Over the centuries, the tree species introduced on the island have been able to reproduce in many habitats, originated by the bio-climatic, geological and edaphic differences. There they gave rise to a great biodiversity of species and varieties. Among these species it may also be included that of the olive tree.
The olive tree, which Leonardo Sciascia defined as something “not suitable for the human life and that has therefore to do with faith and religion,” is always typical of the Sicilian landscape both with the wild shape (Olea europaea var. sylvestris, wild olive tree) and with the domestic one (Olea europaea var. sativa).
The olive tree, therefore, has created a variety of landscapes in relation to different cultivation structures that have been defined in the long process of adaptation of the species to the different environmental features of the area.
During the early history of the olive tree cultivation in Sicily, the mixed tree was the most prevalent: the olive trees, in fact, were associated with several other crops. Thus, the sustenance of the farming families was ensured, the typical geometries of the different cultivation systems were reinforced and the monotonous trend of the arable land was interrupted.
The olive tree in the Monti Iblei
The olive tree in the province of Ragusa affects a large portion of the hilly interior territory, with areas that reach the coast of the Hyblean mountains.
However, the highest concentration of olive trees lies in the territory of Chiaramonte Gulfi, where the olive tree cultivation is the pre-eminent; after all, even in the neighboring towns, the cultivation of the olive tree, is interesting both for the economic perspective and for the environmental protection.
In the Hyblean mountains, the cultivation of the olive tree coexists with other interesting crops such as the vines, the citrus, the vegetables in greenhouses and open field, the cereals and the fodder. In the province of Ragusa, the olive tree has established its union with the livestock and the carob tree, with which has historically outlined some unique rural landscapes.
The prevalent cultivation of the olive tree in the Hyblean territory, in particular in Chiaramonte Gulfi, is characterized by an agriculture conducted between specialized and traditional installations, a mainly hand -made harvesting, through the help of small combs and the use of stairs and networks. However, it is now common also the use of mechanical aids, which improve the efficiency of the harvesting to obtain a quality product at low costs.
With regard to the varieties, in the Hyblean area there are four main autochthonous cultivations that characterize the quality of the Hyblean productions. They are: Tonda Iblea, Nocellara Etnea (sin. Verdese), Biancolilla and Moresca.
The “Tonda Iblea””, in particular, stands out compared to the other varieties for the high organoleptic quality of the extra virgin oil that is produced. With this specific feature, over the last 15 years, it has become one of the most popular and award-winning varieties worldwide, thanks to its organoleptic, sensorial and nutraceutical qualities.
Because of these characteristics and of the excellent relationship between the pulp and the kernel, the “Tonda Iblea” is suitable to be used not only for the production of the oil but also as table olive and pickled.
As for the main use, from the “Tonda Iblea” it is obtained a fruity oil with a predominance of the spicy over the bitter. The typical organoleptic characteristics of this variety is the hint of the green tomato, very apparent in the olives coming from the zones of high hill. The color is an intense green and despite of the prevailing note of spicy, it has a remarkable harmony between the olfactory and taste sensations. The sensory characteristics are the result of the special features of the cultivation and the growing environment: the oil of “only Tonda Iblea” or “single variety of TondaIblea” stands out as a unique and inimitable product, with high sensorial and organoleptic qualities , making it one of the most renowned and important single-variety oils in the world.