The average sensory profile of the oils in the ‘extra’ category from the Territori del Sénia millenium olive trees correspond to a green medium-high intensity fruit. Its taste has a good balance between spicy and sweet, while the bitterness is light and astringency low. If we look closely, we can percieve light secondary aromas reminiscent of freshly cut grass, with hints of green almonds and walnuts. The aromatic complexity ranges between four and five secondary attributes that can be perceived and the subtle differences are mainly green (80-90%).
In order to get to know them better, value them the way they deserve, and promote this important heritage, the Taula del Sénia Commonwealth with help from the Servei d’Ocupació de Catalunya, has catalogued all of the olive trees in the region. This work began by reviewing all of the previous studies to be able to decide on the numbers and measurements to be applied equally throughout the area.
For an olive tree to be included in the inventory, it must have a trunk perimeter of at least 3.50m at a height of 1.30m above ground (as defined in previous studies). The trees meeting this criteria were then used to define the characteristics of a millennium olive tree. They are: the trunk perimeter at 1.30m above ground, base perimeter, tree top diameter, height, variety and GPS coordinates. A collection of photos were also taken of each specimen. Finding all the trees was an arduous task and wouldn’t have been possible without the help from many people including mayors, councillors, work experience apprentices, staff from the Taula del Sénia Commonwealth, rural wardens, farmers, hunters…, all neighbours from the towns and lovers of their heritatge.
The end result was a complete inventory of 4157 olive trees spread out over 18 towns (Alcanar, Benicarló, Càlig, Canet lo Roig, Cervera del Maestre, Freginals, La Galera, Godall, La Jana, Mas de Barberans, Peñarroya de Tastavins, Rossell, Sant Carles de la Rapita, Santa Bàrbara, La Sénia, Traiguera, Ulldecona and Vinaròs).
Moreover, the OM-TS catalogue has been useful for getting to know the different varieties of these olive trees.The Farga is the predominant variety, accounting for 98.5% of those catalogued, while the rest are from others such as the Sevillenca and Morruda. They are also indigenous to the area. We can say without a shadow of a doubt that the Farga variety has been cultivated for the longest in this region. as well as being almost exclusive to here and a few neighbouring areas. This is a most vigorous variety, perfectly adapted to the climate, and produces a high quality oil considered to be amongst the best, as confirmed by recent studies.
Since 2010, thanks to the Commonwealth and Territori del Sénia Association, all the millennium olive trees whose olives are destined to making the Territori del Sénia millennium olive oil are being marked and identified. This is done by placing a small tie or a label with its own identification number on each olive tree. It is then checked by the food processing and certification company and is also a way to begin to give them the recognition they truly deserve.
Due to the increase in the number of mills producing this type of oil, there are more owners who have come forward with their olive trees that exceed 3.50 m at 1.30 m above ground. After having checked all the measurements, new ones have been incorporated in the inventory. In June 2011, the figure was 4444, spread over the same 18 municipalities. It is predicted that this figure could rise, but it is not expected to reach over 5,000 specimens.
This catalogue, as well as raising the awareness of our tree heritage, has served as a spring-board for improving the economic viability of the fruits of these trees: Territori del Sénia millennium olive oil, both for the owners, and the sectors dedicated to production and gastronomy.
Continuing along this line and with the collaboration of the government and economic sectors, a day will come when these millennium olive trees will be considered a symbol of regional identity.
The Mediterranean climate and soil provided the optimum growing conditions for this valued product. The surrounding villages planted whole fields of olive trees, making this tree a defining element of the landscape. The olive tree has stood the test of time and has a spirit of the old classical wisdom. It knows like few other living beings how to grow old. The fruits are renewed every year, but the trunk remains. If respected by the weather and people, it patiently grows, spreads out slowly, beautifully and symbiotically with the land for centuries.
In the Territori del Sénia, historical fortune has favoured the largest concentration of millennium olive trees. This means that in this corner of the world, the same landscape, the same trees, have seen empires fall, invasions take place, religions change, countries form… The ancient historian would perhaps speak of all these things. But far more important are the real witnesses, the Territori del Sénia sacred trees, who have been part of and seen the daily lives of generations and generations of individuals with names, friends and family, beliefs, problems and dreams. They have been cold and hot, hungry and thirsty, disappointed and joyful, as they cultivated, loved and respected the trees that gave them food. So many different men and women but somehow they could be the same ones returning each year to pick some olives that in the same way could also be the same. A thousand stories that have made history and today’s reality. The Territori del Sénia olive trees are the best place to understand the mechanics of time, both cyclical and linear. A beautiful and alive time capsule that you can taste. Taste it by visiting and by savouring the millennium olive oil which is really the ancient landscape bottled in the oil. An oil for anointing the best of dishes with liquid gold. A ray from this sun can elevate any culinary moment from just being simply food to a sublime cultural and aesthetic experience.
Here at the Alicia Foundation, we investigate the ways in which we can truly value earthly products. And at the same time, the strategies for promoting these products, since they are wonderful opportunities for the region. When the Taula dels Sénia Commonwealth commissioned the foundation to carry out a study on their oil, we explored the culinary possibilities, of course, but also all the synergies that, in any form, arise from a combination with the Territori del Sénia olive trees. A chance for the geography, fauna, flora, traditions, products and human landscape to shine through its extra virgin olive oil from the venerable olive trees.
Cooks, historians and scientists from Alice, who have participated in the fieldwork and have developed in our laboratory culinary products, processes and appropriate combinations, have fallen in love with the land, oil and other products in the Territori del Sénia, but most of all with the people who live there and keep it alive.