Pietro D’Amico: Olive oil from Puglia

Deep in the Valle d’Itria, amid whitewashed hilltop villages, conical trulli cottages and centuries-old olive groves in every direction, Pietro d’Amico’s frantolio (olive press) sits in Puglia’s most idyllic landscape. A fourth generation olive farmer (great-grandfather Bartolomeo started it all), he works his 57 acres alongside daughter Vita.

Their trees are hundreds, sometimes thousands of years old

They produce both organic and non-organic “tree to bottle” oil from their 6,000 trees – some of which are a thousand years old. Their olives are hand-picked, taken straight to the frantoio (press) and bottled within 12 hours. They use both the modern “centrifugation” method and traditional hand-pressing, depending on which oil you buy. All of it is extra-virgin.

Hand-picked, pressed and bottled within 12 hours

Pietro and Vita produce over a dozen types of oil, but we’ve picked our three favourites:

Termetrio is their excellent basic oil – it’s their entry level product but is leagues ahead of similarly priced supermarket oils. It’s superb value and a great introduction to real Italian oil.

Trisole is their gold standard oil made from five types of olive: Nardò, Cerasola, Ogliarola, Calabria and Fasola. It’s super spicy and a luminous green when it’s newly pressed, and mellows over the first year to a golden oil that’s sweet at first taste but has a spicy kick for aftertaste. It’s our favourite all-rounder.

Lacrima is an oil for special occasions – think avocado on toast, or drizzled on the freshest fish fillet. For this, they hand-grind no fewer than seven varieties of olives on ancient millstones, then leave the paste to stand until it “weeps”, the oil rising to the top by itself and pooling, where it’s spooned off, bit by bit.

Both organic and non-organic are available. Although they use bottles as well as tins, we’ve chosen tins as they’re easier (and lighter) to ship, and keeps better, too – oil should be kept away from sunlight.

I look at my trees – many are hundreds of years old, some of them thousands – and I think of how many families have worked around them, how many people have hoed the ground, how many have earned their living from them. – Pietro

We’re also selling their herbal tea made from olive leaves, a taster set of monovarietals (three 100ml bottles of Cerasola, Nardò and Ogliarola oil) – perfect if you want to do an oil tasting at home – and olive oil-infused handcream, perfect for lockdown hands (it’s quite liquidy but absorbs fast and works very hard).

About the area: Puglia produces the majority of Italy’s olive oil – there are around 60 million trees here – but the region has been hit hard in recent years by an olive-killing bacterium, xylella fastidiosa. Luckily, the Valle d’Itria has been spared.

How we know them: We came across them in 2011, following the signs to their frantolio while on holiday in Puglia. Pietro gave us a tasting – they run through their whole range, to show you how markedly different the oils taste – and we’ve been buying from them ever since, bringing empty suitcases to Puglia, and filling them to the brim with the D’Amico family’s green gold.

Pietro D’Amico’s products