Breaking: Greece Bailout is Hinging on Selling $15,000 Olive Oil

1x1.trans Breaking: Greece Bailout is Hinging on Selling $15,000 Olive OilSpeiron Company in Greece claims to have produced the first luxury olive oil in the world. Lambda sells for $15,000 a bottle, and the 17-ounce bottle pours for $147 per teaspoon.

From the Lambda press release:

“From some of the oldest olive oil trees of Greece, the finest Koroneiki olives are handpicked and pressed with utmost care. This creates an olive oil of ultra-low acidity (0.23º), rich in phenols and full of freshness and fruitiness which is bottled and labelled entirely by hand, bottle by bottle, in order to ensure minimum oxidation and maximum attention to detail.”

The brand also classifies the oil as ultra-premium, a category that goes beyond extra virgin. One olive oil expert dismisses the $15,000 bottle olive oil as fashion. “It’s marketing, fashion, what have you,” says Judy Ridgway, author of four books on olive oil.

But Speiron executives point out that part of Lambda’s appeal is the fashion statement made with the packaging: The nearly 17-ounce bottle is embossed with the recipient’s signature and comes in a lacquered case with a gold nameplate. “This is for very special people,” says a spokesperson.

1x1.trans Breaking: Greece Bailout is Hinging on Selling $15,000 Olive OilSmart Money’s Charles Passy claims most experts say a great bottle can be had for $20 or so. “Zingerman’s, a Michigan-based purveyor that carries an extensive selection of high-end oils, says its priciest offering goes for $60 — and comes from an Italian producer that releases only 2,000 bottles a year.”

“You’re really not buying the oil, you’re buying the bottle,” he says in a video clip. “They packaged it to the deluxe level with specialty woods, gold wrapping, and your signature on the bottle.”

Take Part, a website covering news, lifestyle, and social action notes that Patricia Darragah, of the California Olive Oil Council, says there are 30,000 acres of olives planted for extra virgin olive oil production, with an additional 5,000 new acres being planted each year.

That amounts to a production of 2 million gallons of olive oil in California come harvest season (which starts in October), nearly doubling production from just two years ago.

“The price range for California extra virgin olive oils [starts] at around $9-10 and tops off at around $42 a bottle,” says Darragh.

Different Types of Olive Oil

1x1.trans Breaking: Greece Bailout is Hinging on Selling $15,000 Olive OilPremium Extra Virgin: Oil made from the first pressing of olives, low in acidity (can be as low as .25%), this is the stuff you want to use on a gorgeous caprese or a salad where you can really appreciate its flavor.

Extra Virgin: Oil made from the first pressing of olives, this will tend to be a bit more fruity than PEVOO. The acidity for these should be between 0.8 % and 1% acidity.

Fine Virgin: It’s acidity level cannot be more than 1.5%. This is a good replacement for EVOO if it is too pricey around your area.

Virgin: It’s acidity should be 2% or less and can’t have refined oil. Use these for cooking.

Semifine Virgin: Keep this for cooking, it’s acidity should be around 3.3%.

As Antonio (our co-founder and contributor) points out, olive oil is a great source of mono-saturated fat and contains many anti-oxidant qualities. It counteracts LDL (bad cholesterol) and in effect protects against heart disease. Extra Virgin Olive Oils have much higher levels of antioxidants (phenols and vitamin E).

Antonio says “I think this 15k olive oil is BS.  I challenge the company to include us in a blind tasting.   Let’s have our experts give you the real story behind the oil. –  Don’t worry they won’t because it’s BS.”

See Antonio’s list of the top five must have olive oils for 2010. They were chosen for their flavor, quality and overall usefulness in the kitchen…and definitely DO NOT COST $15,000.

Spence Cooper
Inquisitive foodie with a professional investigative background and strong belief in the organic farm to table movement. Author of Bad Seeds: A FriendsEAT Guide to GMO's. Buy Now!
Spence Cooper