STELLENBOSCH, South Africa — For fine olive oil, South Africa does not readily come to mind. But the Mediterranean climate of the Cape wine region is excellent for olive trees, as Giulio Bertrand, an Italian who settled in Stellenbosch in the 1990s, discovered. Today it is estimated that the original plot — “the mother block” of trees on his estate, Morgenster — has provided millions of olive trees to growers in Namibia, South Africa and Zimbabwe, essentially kick-starting olive oil production throughout Southern Africa. Now, there are about 20 brands of extra-virgin olive oil in South Africa. Mr. Bertrand died last year at 91, but his daughters, Federica and Alessandra Bertrand, continue to run the estate, which has 30,000 trees and also produces wines. And the olive oils are perennial prizewinners. The 2018 bottling was ranked among the best in the world by Flos Olei, an olive oil guidebook. The 2018 oil is the estate’s flagship blend of 14 varietals, each picked and pressed separately before being combined. The extra-virgin oil is richly herbaceous on the palate, with notes of pepper and pleasing bitterness.
Morgenster 2018 Extra-Virgin Olive Oil, $29.99 for 500 milliliters (16.9 ounces), igourmet.com.
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Florence Fabricant is a food and wine writer. She writes the weekly Front Burner and Off the Menu columns, as well as the Pairings column, which appears alongside the monthly wine reviews. She has also written 12 cookbooks.
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