By Enza Bettelli

Extra  virgin olive oil DOP from the Lombardy lakes

The  water reservoirs of the Lombardy subalpine lakes retain warmth and release  humidity, so creating the conditions for an ideal microclimate for olive  trees. They were already  cultivated here before the Roman Era but, over the centuries, Lombard  oil production has gone through various phases. Benedictine monks made it  flourish in 1500; today we have a good quality production but alas in very  limited quantities.

The  geographic area of DOP includes Lake Como (or Lario) and Lake Iseo (or  Sebino). The banks of Lake Como are covered with magnificent villas and parks,  with characteristic villages, woods, pastures and parks and natural reserves  nearby. Lake Iseo is also very impressive; and is next to Franciacorta, an area of excellent wines.

The Consortium and DOP
Oil from the Lombardy lakes obtained the DOP in 1997, but the consortium for protection and control was founded in 1999. The consortium is  volunteer-based, with more than 60 associates, and the  production regulation has  two sub-denominations, Sebino and Lario, which have to be indicated on the label.
The Denomination of Protected Origin Lombardy Lakes Sebino is reserved  for extra virgin olive oil obtained from Leccino olives which must make up at  least 40%, and from either Frantoio, Casaliva, Pendolino and Sbresa or all of  them together, but no more than 60%. There may alsobe other varieties as long  as they are not more than 20%.
DOP Lombard Lakes Lario extra virgin olive oil must be obtained from  the following varieties, alone or together: Frantoio, Casaliva, Leccino not  less than 80%. Other varieties may be present but not exceeding  20%.

Olives should be harvested  before January 15th of each year, and a maximum yield of olives should be no  more than 5000 kg per hectare for intensive cultivation, harvested by hand  directly from the plant or with mechanical devices, and the olives should be  pressed within three days of harvesting. Extra virgin olive oil Lombardy Lakes  must have a green-yellowish colour, lightly fruity odour and fruity flavour,  with very slight bitter and piquant sensations. The flavour is  particularly light and delicate; it goes well with starters and fish  dishes and is perfect in the preparation of pastries.

In the DOP Lombardy  Lake territory there are  many interesting cheeses such as Taleggio, Quartirolo and Gorgonzola all of  which are DOP, and a wide range of cold meats, such as salami Brianza DOP.  In the traditional  gastronomy there is a lot  of rice, corn (especially polenta), potatoes and the so-called minor cereals  (millet, barley, rye, oats), buckwheat and chestnuts. Meat is mostly white and  game. There is a lot of fish from the lakes and rivers, such as "alosa agone"  which are salted and air dried to become "missoltini", a very typical product  from the area of Como, or perch in skillet or with risotto. There are not many  sweet specialties. But of course there are excellent DOC and DOCG wines  from Franciacorta which go  well with everything from starters to desserts.
(English translation by Gudrun Dalla Via)

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