Sublime drizzled over Vanilla Bean Ice Cream and finished with sea salt!
The olives are received outside the mill and stored in large bins which contain about 450 kilos. These large bins are then placed on a machine that dumps the olives into the funnel. The olives fall into the funnel and are carried by a conveyer belt towards the leaf extractor. The leaf extractor removes the leaves which are immediately discharged in a dump truck outside the mill and then burnt.
Once the leaves have been removed, the olives are dumped into the washer. If any external objects (stones, pieces of wood…) are left, they are eliminated with the extractor. In this way, only olives remain in the circuit. The olives are washed then strained to eliminate the water. The conveyer belt carries the olives towards the crusher. The mill is equipped with a modern hammer crusher which is composed of several hammers. They stamp the olives on a grid and transform them into paste.The olive paste falls into the kneading vat.
The pits contained in the paste are like little stones as they have been completely crushed. These pits are rich in anti-oxidizing agents and must be preserved in the oil. The paste must be kneaded in order to make the olive oil’s extraction easier. The kneading vat has several compartments which make it possible to separate the paste into several lots. The olive growers can therefore recover the oil produced by their own olives. Once the paste is kneaded, it is conveyed towards the decanter.
The decanter is a centrifuge with a speed of approximately 4080 rpm (rotations per minute). This ecological decanter (no added water) separates the olives oil from the skin, stone and water which are then discharged in a dump truck outside the mill. The oil extracted by the decanter falls into a second vat. At this stage, it still contains a little mud and water. The oil is then poured into the last centrifuge. This machine’s speed is 6500 rpm. It eliminates any remaining water or mud.
The olive oil is poured into a final vat before being directly bottled by the olive growers (wanting the oil produced by their own olives) or conveyed towards storage vats. These vats are made of stainless steel. As with wine, they are maintained in inert gas in order to preserve the olive oil’s aroma and prevent oxidizing. The olive oil will be bottled when necessary. We never filter our olive oil because we consider that it is only necessary for the visual aspect of the oil (adding more brilliance) but it may diminish the aromas.
We use a technique called first cold pressed, which is a mechanical pressure using no water or solvent – (although these elements produce more oil, it is not as pure). The modern machines in the mill can transform 3600 kg of olives per hour. It’s one of the biggest mills in France.
We use only very fresh olives and so we obtain extra virgin olive oil with very low acidity (0.2%) and peroxide (less than 6) rate. This quality is exceptional. The main characteristics of Château Virant’s oil are : green fruity with aromas of artichoke, fresh grass, apple, fresh almond, and a little sensation of bitterness and pungency (a result of the anti-oxidizing agents)..
Château Virant has become the only property in France to produce Olive Oil and Wine at the same place, respecting the traditional methods of the Provençal country side.