Domaine de Marquiliani Corsican olive oil, the best oil you’ve never heard of

Corsican Olive Oil

I love it when I find something delightful no one else has heard of.  The thrill of discovery. That smug sense of satisfaction for being the first. And I bet you’ve never heard of this one, Corsican olive oil. Domaine de Marquiliani olive oil to be precise.

Ok, well I’m not exactly the first to have found this. Olive oil has been made and enjoyed on the beautiful island of Corsica since 3400 BC. Still, most people I know, even the most hardcore foodies, have never heard of it so I am going to keep the smug, thanks much.

The first time I encountered Corsican olive oil was at Casa Corse, a nice Corsican restaurant in Paris. I’m a bit vague on the meal
itself, but I remember the three baskets of bread I ate, as a mere conduit for that marvelous oil they served. I tried to ask the indifferent server what oil they use. Corsican oil, of course, he said, in that gruff reply that could only come from a discommoded French waiter. Not entirely in the mood to press him anymore, I left it at that.

The following weeks I went on a hunt for Corsican oil. I bought pretty much every kind I came across. That’s still not adding up to many, mind you, since Corsican oils are something of a rarity even in Paris.  I did a taste test in my little flat, and found one I loved themost. It was an oil from Domaine de Marquiliani, which I bought from the little Corsican épicerie near the Opera.

Corsican olive oil is something of an enigma. It has a strong herbaceous quality, almost like that of Tuscan-style olive oil, but without the acidity and that grassy green quality of the Tuscan oil. Part of the reason is the terroir. The hillside of Corsica is covered by the Maquis, the low shrubs composed of rosemary, sage, spiny broom, evergreen, myrtle and other herbs. (In fact, the shrubs cover the ground so well that the French resistance during WWII took the name Maquis as their own.) Olive groves in Corsica grow among these Maquis, and take the herbaceous quality from them.

Domaine de Marquiliani estate has been cultivating olives and producing olive oil since the 18th century. The olive fruits are picked very late, pressed cold, and let rest in the 18C (or 16F) cave for three months at the domaine before being decanted into bottles. The entire process is natural and chemical free, even though the producer, Anne Amalric, once worked as an agricultural chemist for the French government before returning to her roots in Corsica.

Amalric makes oil that has the traditional quality of Corsican oil, that’s to say it has the herbaceous quality of the Maquis with a faint whiff of green almond. Her practice of picking very late and very ripe olives to press for oil gives her oil an amazingly supple, round quality and super low acidity, so you could taste all the qualities of the oil without that puckering, acrid acidity -present in so many fashionable oils these days- getting in the way. I just love it.

This oil is my favorite all-purpose oil at the moment. I’m using it in everything. Ok perhaps not in Thai curry, but pretty much everything else. I have two other finishing oils that I use, I’ll write about them too soon.

Where to buy:

Direct from the domaine:

Domaine de Marquiliani
Anne Amalric
20270 Aghione
Tél : +33 (0)4.95.56.64.02
Fax : +33 (0)4.95.56.60.61

In the USA:
via Amazon
Bella Cosa Foods.

In Paris:
Comptoir Corse
Métro: Bourse
16, rue de la Banque
Paris (2ème)
Tél: 01 42 96 19 61
et
Lu Spuntinu
Métro: Saint Lazare
21, rue des Mathurins
Paris (9ème)
Tél: 01 47 42 66 52

P.S. Freshness is an important indicator of quality in olive oil, so before you buy from any of these merchants, ask them when the oil was produced. Each bottle of Domaine Marquiliani oil is marked with the date of production. I wouldn’t buy any oil any older than two years.

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  • Vanessa

    No sign of import to UK?
    v

  • http://kccfoodie.typepad.com Ty

    Sounds like the perfect dipping oil. Actually it sounds TOO precious to be used as anything but! Grassy, acidic oils are all the rage now, but I’m infuriated that there’s no darn Bella Cosa in Honolulu. You know of any good huiles d’olives at Williams-Sonoma?
    By the way, I’ve just discovered your blog today, and I fell in love instantly. Merveilleux!

  • http://blogsoop.com Doug

    I like to take a moderately priced olive oil and throw some tasty things in the bottle for a few weeks – minced garlic, bay leaves, red pepper flakes and then let the whole thing stew.
    I suppose doing so to an oil of this caliber would take away from the artistry involved in producing it.

  • http://rubycrownedkinglette.typepad.com stephanie s

    both the oil and that dish are beautiful, as are your word describing it. i want to have some now, and i haven’t even had breakfast yet.

  • http://thevillagevegetable.blogspot.com Linda

    have you been snooping around my pantry?! i am near the end of my current olive oil and want desperately to try something new. thanks for the recommendation! greatly appreciated.

  • Timothy Harris

    Sounds like a good one, but I’d wager that the best unknown olive oil comes from less than three hours away from my native San Francisco. The climate in the Sierra foothills is similar to the mediterranean. Check it out http://www.apollooliveoil.com/

  • http://winterskieskitchenaglow.blogspot.com/ Shaun

    Pim, It is always really hard to know what olive oil to get because there is not a central place that olive oils are “reviewed”, at least not like wine is. I am forever experimenting because the market is over saturated and because I keep forgetting half the ones I have tried. I will put this one on my list…Cheers.

  • http://www.winosandfoodies.typepad.com/ barbara

    Unbelievable Pim. Yesterday I picked this up from the shelf in my local fruit and vege shop, but then put it back and bought my regular evoo from Spain. For your NZ readers it is imported by Sabato ( and available at their shop in Mt Eden) and available at IE Produce in Takapuna. It is really well priced compared to the Spanish one I buy.