Under the watchful gaze of the Atlas Mountains, The Domaine Royal Palm is set in the heart of an age-old olive grove with incomparable natural wealth. Morocco is one of the largest producers of olive oil, ranking 7th in the world. It also has the second largest collection of olive groves, planted with all the existing varieties in the world in Tessaout, just 65km from Marrakech. Olive oil is a staple in Mediterranean cuisine and it was only natural for the Domaine Royal Palm to produce its own with the support and expertise of Laurent Ruault. Read on for a glimpse.
Olive oil has been used since ancient times and its production is an age-old tradition in Morocco. Nowadays it is an indispensable commodity in cuisines the world over. The Domaine Royal Palm has therefore decided to create a ‘tailor-made’ olive oil for its guests, bringing in the exacting expertise of Laurent Ruault, a graduate of the Montpellier School of Pharmacy in ‘oleology’, which is to olive oil what oenology is to wine.
The olive oil of the Royal Palm is produced only from olive trees growing on the estate. From the garden to the kitchen, through the boutiques and fine food shop, its production draws on the expertise of the entire personnel of the Domaine and reflects a true team effort.
A custom-made product is what the Royal Palm promises to deliver right from the earliest stages of production. Before harvesting gets under way, the olives are analysed in order to determine their state of maturity and thus predict the optimum date for harvest. This information is necessary since it will affect the aroma and flavour of the olive oil produced. Olive oil is a pure fresh fruit juice and unlike wine it is both impossible and unadvisable to alter its taste through fermentation. Therefore, getting it right the first time is important and the excellence of the oil depends on the degree of accuracy and expertise.
After harvesting and hand sorting to ensure only the best fruit are used, the olives collected are kept in the shade until late afternoon. They are then taken to the mill before returning the same evening. For the 2013 campaign, 720 olive trees were harvested with a crop of approximately 18 tonnes. With an average yield of 25 kilos per tree, 2,500 litres of extra virgin olive oil have thus been produced.
Virgin olive oil is obtained only through physical processes such as washing, pressing, centrifuging and decanting. A fresh fruit juice is obtained naturally, without any additives and it is imperative to preserve its nature. “Cold’ pressing is therefore essential to obtain oil of an exceptional quality. All these processes distinguish olive oil from other edible oils, most of which are refined. After decantation for 3 to 4 weeks, the oil is bottled and stored in a dark place at a temperature below 25°C. The oil is at its best within the first 12 to 18 months of production.
Two types of same quality olive oils are produced with complementary aromas to please everyone. The characteristics of the Domaine’s oil are essentially linked to the predominant use of the Picholine variety of olives. This is nicely called a ‘green fruity’ taste olive oil with pleasant scents of fresh grass, newly cut hay, raw artichoke and tomato plants. A true summer garden treat! It has a green colour with yellow hues that give a sun kissed-glow to the oil. The taste buds are delighted by the taste of grass, pineapple, yellow plum and artichoke, eventually complemented with aromas of red plum and apple. To obtain a ‘ripe fruit’ taste, the oil is produced from olives harvested later in the year, towards the end of November. It also develops red and yellow fruit aromas, this time with a floral bouquet of linden blossom and fresh almond.
Enjoy the tasting!