ARBEQUINA is a Catalan variety said to take its name from the village of Arbeca in Catalunya's province of Lerida. A clonal selection of Arbequina arrived in California in 1999 as the basis for the creation of super high density plantings now popular in California. In fact, Arbequina has become the most widely planted olive variety in California. It produces a light fruity oil, famous in Spain for the denominations of Siurana and Borges Blanques. Its soft, fragrant character has become important throughout Spain, for example, where it is used to lower the pungency and bitterness of other varieties. What makes this Arbequina unique is the "NO MALAX."
MALAXATION is the word used for the slow mixing of the crushed olive paste containing oil globules, water, and pieces of olive pulp which, when slowly mixed, causes the agglomeration of the small oil globules into larger ones, easier to separate as oil. Malaxation also causes a certain amount of oxidation unless carefully done. An innovation created by Marco Mugelli, my late Florentine oil expert friend, was to do the malaxation in a container that was under vacumn, avoiding oxidization. With this ARBEQUINA NO MALAX, there is no malaxation. The paste is sent directly through to the centrifuge which centrifuges out the oil. The downside to this production technology is that the quantity of oil extracted is much lower than with malaxation. The upside is fresher and more flavorful oil.
Corti Brothers NO-MALAX Arbequina is different from that produced in its first year of release, 2013. Due to the lack of cold weather during the olive harvest, the fruit is much more delicate in flavor. This oil was harvested about the same time as the 2013; without cold weather, however, the fruit remains static and soft flavored. This is a delicate oil, a light fruity extra virgin that has a lot to recommend it.