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Hamilton Russell Vineyards Extra Virgin Olive Oil turns 23!

Posted on: June 22, 2015

Hamilton Russell Vineyards has just bottled and labelled our 23rd vintage of Estate Grown, Extra Virgin, Cold Pressed, Unfiltered Olive Oil.   Every year we make tiny quantities of Olive Oil to sell to friends and visitors to the Hamilton Russell Vineyards Tasting Room – and of course for our own use at home. Nothing compares to young, fresh vibrant extra Virgin Olive Oil and we are amazed to see so many people, top restaurants included,  using tired (sometimes almost rancid) imported Olive Oil, often past its “sell by” date, when there is beautiful fresh South African Olive Oil available from the current vintage. Most Olive Oil aficionados would agree that the younger the oil, the better.   Our 2015 is a great vintage which shows beautifully fresh, cut-grass and green apple aromas with an intense, structured, long peppery palate.   At a Free Fatty Acid percentage of an extremely low 0.2 – Extra Virgin is allowed up to 0.8 – 2015 is a particularly clean, fresh and peppery oil.   Production off our Estate this year, amounted to only 3 997 – 500ml –  bottles and we wanted to offer it for sale immediately – as fresh as possible – directly from the Estate. Sales are limited to one 6 bottle case per person at R600  – delivery free anywhere in South Africa. This represents a saving of R120 (or the equivalent of one bottle for free) on a purchase made later in the year or in our Tasting Room. To qualify for this special offer, orders need to be placed before the end of September to enable us to deliver for free.   We are extremely proud of our rare Olive Oil and would like to encourage you to become a regular purchaser of 6 bottles of the current vintage as it is released. See below for more information on Hamilton Russell Vineyards Extra Virgin Olive Oil:    

Brief History of Hamilton Russell Vineyards Olive Oil

  • First experimental pressing of 1 liter of Olive Oil by Anthony Hamilton Russell in 1993, using upside down car jack and green Mission olives from an old ornamental grove. Exciting quality justifies further trials.
  • Second trial pressing in 1994 of both green and black olives to check impact of ripeness on character.
  • First commercial release of Hamilton Russell Vineyards Extra Virgin Cold Pressed Olive Oil in 1995. Oil pressed on a borrowed mechanical press and sold in the Tasting Room. First Wine Estate to release an olive oil in South Africa.
  • Bought own small (150kg batch) hydraulic batch press from Italy for the 1996 harvest. Quantity made in 1996 allowed small amounts to be made available to friends and to visitors to our Tasting Room.
  • 1996 – initiated larger scale plantings on sandstone soils on the Southern extremity of Hamilton Russell Vineyards around the manor house “Braemar”.
  • Current plantings amount to 3050 trees covering approximately 6 hectares.

Olive Oil Philosophy

  Like wine, olive oil expresses terroir. Our aim is to reflect the individuality and personality of the Hamilton Russell Vineyards terroir in our oil. We want to contribute to the world of olive oil with our own distinct style, which reflects its South African origins on Hamilton Russell Vineyards. A Tuscan formula would probably not produce the best results in our terroir. Our mix of the classic Frantoio tree, South African Leccino (a close relative of Frantoio) and Mission, combined with a handful of completely different, naturally bird-seeded trees, makes for an Olive Oil unique to Hamilton Russell Vineyards, but very much in the classic style.   We believe the growing and pressing of extra virgin olive oil to be an aesthetic pursuit – like wine – and we are aiming to make our Olive Oil (and groves) as beautiful as possible. We do not like the idea of high yielding, single leader trained, high density planted, mechanically pruned and picked olive groves with specially developed high yielding clones. These seem to us better suited to oil as a commodity than oil as an expression of origin. We also believe there is a link between yield and quality and yield and site expression (which is disputed by many growers). Our Olive trees are hand picked,  unirrigated, traditionally planted and pruned – and very low yielding.   We believe that we make the best oil using organic methods – particularly organic treatment of our soils and are spending a lot of time increasing the soil microbial activity in our olive groves. A high percentage of sandstone-derived soils emphasize fresh lifted fruit and cut-grass character while delivering a lighter more elegant palate structure.  The percentage of clay grown olives provides additional rich, peppery structure and density to the oil.   Olive oil steadily declines in quality with oxidation over time in the bottle. We believe consumers should immediately be able to get an indication of the age of the oil in a bottle. Much over a year, the oil will not be nearly as good as when it was first bottled. For this reason we print the vintage of our Olive Oil on the label. Light damages olive oil, so we use a UV filtering dark bottle. Oxygen damages olive oil so we use a smaller bottle, which minimizes the time the oil stays open before the bottle is finished.   All the best and we hope you enjoy your 2015!



Anthony Hamilton Russell

Hemel-en-Aarde Valley
P O Box 158
Hermanus, 7200
South Africa
Ph: +27 28 312 3595
Fx: +27 28 312 1797