In pursuit of green gold in Provence

  • In the middle of Luberon in Provence, Carine and Roland Coupat have been making their own organic olive oil since 1998.

    In the middle of Luberon in Provence, Carine and Roland Coupat have been making their own organic olive oil since 1998. - © Pascale Béroujon

    In the middle of Luberon in Provence, Carine and Roland Coupat have been making their own organic olive oil since 1998.

    In the middle of Luberon in Provence, Carine and Roland Coupat have been making their own organic olive oil since 1998. - © Pascale Béroujon

  • La Bastide du Laval, nestled at the heart of the Luberon.

    La Bastide du Laval, nestled at the heart of the Luberon. - © Pascale Béroujon

    La Bastide du Laval, nestled at the heart of the Luberon.

    La Bastide du Laval, nestled at the heart of the Luberon. - © Pascale Béroujon

  • Carine and Roland Coupat on the estate at La Bastide.

    Carine and Roland Coupat on the estate at La Bastide. - © Pascale Béroujon

    Carine and Roland Coupat on the estate at La Bastide.

    Carine and Roland Coupat on the estate at La Bastide. - © Pascale Béroujon

  • A protected appellation for Provençal olive oil.

    A protected appellation for Provençal olive oil. - © Pascale Béroujon

    A protected appellation for Provençal olive oil.

    A protected appellation for Provençal olive oil. - © Pascale Béroujon

  • The olive is rich in antioxidants.

    The olive is rich in antioxidants. - © Pascale Béroujon

    The olive is rich in antioxidants.

    The olive is rich in antioxidants. - © Pascale Béroujon

  • The oliveron

    The oliveron - © Pascale Béroujon

    The oliveron

    The oliveron - © Pascale Béroujon

  • Harvest date is determined by the optimum ripening of the olives, another factor determining the quality of the oil.

    Harvest date is determined by the optimum ripening of the olives, another factor determining the quality of the oil. - © Pascale Béroujon

    Harvest date is determined by the optimum ripening of the olives, another factor determining the quality of the oil.

    Harvest date is determined by the optimum ripening of the olives, another factor determining the quality of the oil. - © Pascale Béroujon

  • Roland Coupat  in his oil laboratory

    Roland Coupat in his oil laboratory - © Pascale Béroujon

    Roland Coupat in his oil laboratory

    Roland Coupat in his oil laboratory - © Pascale Béroujon

  • The dark glass prevents staining by the oil.

    The dark glass prevents staining by the oil. - © Pascale Béroujon

    The dark glass prevents staining by the oil.

    The dark glass prevents staining by the oil. - © Pascale Béroujon

  • The oils from La Bastide de Laval have won 9 awards since 2009.

    The oils from La Bastide de Laval have won 9 awards since 2009. - © Pascale Béroujon

    The oils from La Bastide de Laval have won 9 awards since 2009.

    The oils from La Bastide de Laval have won 9 awards since 2009. - © Pascale Béroujon

  • The flavours of the oil are best appreciated when the oil is tasted on its own or with bread.

    The flavours of the oil are best appreciated when the oil is tasted on its own or with bread. - © Pascale Béroujon

    The flavours of the oil are best appreciated when the oil is tasted on its own or with bread.

    The flavours of the oil are best appreciated when the oil is tasted on its own or with bread. - © Pascale Béroujon

In pursuit of green gold in Provence Chemin de la Royère Cadenet fr

Our photographer followed Carine and Roland Coupat, who have been growing olives in Provence since 1998. It’s at La Bastide du Laval that they harvest, assemble and produce their award-winning olive oil. Here we meet these lovers of the so-called ‘green gold’ of Provence.

La Bastide du Laval

Located in the heart of the Luberon Regional Park, La Bastide du Laval has been designed to help guests slow down and appreciate the Provençal way of life: feeling, tasting and learning. More than simply a production house, the mill at the Bastide is a real educational venue focused on olives, olive oil and the region itself.

Tasting and walking in Provence

Carine and Roland Coupat give meaning to the concept of ‘oleotourism’ by welcoming tourists for visits to the mill and olive grove. Visits incorporate walks along marked trails, learning about olive cultivation, an introduction to the different varieties of fruity olives, tastings and cooking classes.

‘Controlled designation of origin’(AOP)

The olive grove is located in the Provençal olive oil AOP zone, which guarantees a quality terroir and production method. The olive trees on the estate produce a small crop because they are pruned each year – so they concentrate their qualities in the few olives they do produce.

A concentration of antioxidants

Aglandau is the most planted variety of olives in Vaucluse and also the most frequently harvested at La Bastide du Laval, second to the Salonenque, Picholine, Bouteillan and Cayon varieties. Aglandau and Picholine are particularly rich in antioxidants, ensuring good conservation of the oil. In the mouth, they are characterised by their ‘ardence’, creating a slight tingling in the back of the throat.

Millers since 2014

The ‘oliveron’ is the both an olive grower and a miller. This is the role Carine and Roland Coupat have played since 2014. “When we started to really look after the trees, it was no longer possible to take risks during their development – so the idea slowly matured in our minds to build a mill and train ourselves to grind our own olives to extract the oil. Hence we’re both growers and millers!”

Gentle picking

The harvest is carried out manually with combs and fillets, from the end of October to December. The freshly picked olives arrive directly at the mill. For Roland, “treating olives in our own mill minimises the time between harvesting and trituration, thus avoiding any risk of fermentation or loss of flavour”.The crushing is done without adding water, to ensure optimum quality of the oil.

In search of balance

Every January, Roland settles in front of his oil samples and tries to find the right balance between bitterness and ‘ardence’ by subtly mixing in order to create the perfect olive oil.

Blind tasting

At each tasting, Roland uses a blue glass (official tasting glass from the International Olive Oil Committee) which he slowly turns to release the aromas. The dark colour of the glass prevents staining by the oil. Once the oils are selected, bottling is also done at the mill.

From Provence to the Élysée Palace

Since 2009, nine medals awarded by the Concours Général Agricole in Paris have rewarded the work of these passionate olive growers. The recognition goes further, as many chefs have adopted at least one of the mill’s oils in their cooking, including Michel and Cesar Troigros and Guillaume Gomez at the Élysée Palace.

A fruity tasting

Don’t forget: olive oil is a condiment. The bitterness, pungency, quality and freshness can be easily perceived during tasting but disappear when used in food. Of course, there are also the olives themselves, which can be equally appreciated by lovers of good olive oil.

 


BY PASCALE BÉROUJON, https://www.photosberoujon.com

 

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