The olive oil from the Sierra de Cádiz forms a very small part of the Spanish national production, but the special climate, soil and distinctive olives of the zone result in a superior oil which is in high demand throughout Spain and the entire world.
Sierra de Cádiz
In the Cádiz province there are some 20,000 hectares used in the cultivation of the humble olive. Around 75% comes from the Sierra alone. The important districts are Olvera, Algodonales and Setenil, with approximately 8,000 hectares, followed by El Gastor, Puerto Serrano, Zahara de la Sierra, Alcalá del Valle, Prado del Rey, Villamartín and Torre Alháquime.
The two most important factors contributing to the high quality of olive oil from the province are:
- The unique soil and climate. The Cádiz olive is actually a mountain olive as opposed to the intensively grown olives in most of Andalucía and Spain. Although the terrain is difficult, leading to higher production costs, the resulting lack of irrigation and less forced growth gives a much purer and higher quality olive
- The varieties of olives. Cádiz olive oil is produced by blending the oil of a wide range of varieties of olive. Each variety contributes nuances of flavour, colour and aroma to a final product that boasts unique and unequalled characteristics. The ‘Lechín’ variety is grown in around half of the area under olive cultivation in the province. An early maturing, robust and resistant olive, it is suitable for the limestone soils of the zone. Other varieties include Picual, Manzanilla, Hojiblanca, Alameña de Montilla, Verdial and Arbequina.
Olive oil from the Sierra is yellowish-green in colour, with a fresh, fruity aroma of medium intensity. Nuances of aromatic herbs and fruit such as banana, apple or tomato create a fine balance between bitter and spicy.
Unique flavour tones and nuances are found in the following areas:
- Algodonales and Zahara de la Sierra olives are mainly Manzanilla and Lechín, giving the oil a yellowish green colour and a fresh, fruity aroma of fresh-cut grass and green apples. With a fine balance between bitter and spicy, the oil tastes smooth and fluid.
- Olvera produces Lechín, Manzanilla, Verdial and Alameña olives. The oil is a green, slightly yellow colour, with an aroma of fresh green fruit, aromatic herbs and freshly cut artichoke – with a flavour of fruity green olive that is also finely balanced between bitter and spicy.
- Setenil de las Bodegas produces Lechín, Hojiblanca, Manzanilla and Picual. The oil is yellow with a tinge of green, and a clean, fragrant aroma of fresh-cut grass and green apples, banana and a tinge of tomato.
The difficult terrain makes the use of machinery, fertilisers and pesticides almost impossible and most olive production in the Sierra de Cádiz is classified as organic. Production is increasing to meet increasing demand for pure, quality oil.
Denomination of Origin Sierra de Cádiz
In order to protect the brand, the Denominación de Origen Sierra de Cádiz was set up. This organisation ensures quality and certification of the oil sold under the brand of Cádiz olive oil.