This Italian olive oil gets stoned!


I've thought a lot about olive oil. I've visited dozens of mills around the Mediterranean, harvested olives and even produced small quantities of (decent) family oil. 

My preference is for the intense stuff—near-phosphorescent green nectar, as aromatic as a spring meadow and packing a throat-tickling, phenol-fueled pungency the Italians call pizzicante. I thought I'd tasted most all of the greats—from Umbria to Tuscany to Sicily, and from Spain to Croatia.

Then I met Gianfanco Comincioli.

Comincioli, 58, hails from the hills of the western shores of Northern Italy's Lake Garda. Here he continues his family's 450-year-plus tradition of making red Groppello and other wines. But unlike the Cominciolis before him, he is obsessed with extra-virgin olive oil.

I visited Comincioli last spring because I'd heard winemakers and restaurateurs rave about how he was pioneering the niche of "denocciolati" oils, made from olives pitted before pressing.

I was skeptical. Oil from pitted olives? It seemed like making wine from de-seeded grapes. Why bother? Oils made in both traditional presses and modern centrifuges mash pulp and seed together before separating the oil.

Then I tasted Comincioli's oils—jade green and tangy with bracing herbaceous aromas and a pizzicante kick that left me to cough and exclaim "Wow!"

Comincioli makes single-variety oils from lightly spicy Leccino olives, as well as Garda's own artichoke-bitter the full blog (free) at