Extra virgin olive oil used to come from Italy or Spain. And then California. Now olive oil is produced in many countries throughout the world including Chile. I first learned that last winter when a guest of ASOEX (the Chilean export association) to learn about their impressive fresh Santiago Premium 500 ml-1produce Santiago Limited 500 ml -1operation.

Olisur, one of the olive oil producers, grows the fruit on their farm –  a 6,500-acre estate about 80 miles south of Santiago in the heart of Chile’s wine country, the Cochagua Valley. The company harvests the fruit and then presses the olives within two hours of picking resulting in a fresh-tasting product.

Olisur recently began to export two oil lines to the U.S.: O-Live & Co., an extra-virgin olive oil for everyday cooking; and Santiago Limited Edition and Santiago Premium, intended for salad, sauces and  finishing dishes where the flavor really matters.

Compared to European oils, their flavorfulO-Live & Co 750 cc-1 oils are value priced. O-LIVE & CO extra virgin olive oil retails for $6.99 – $7.99, Santiago Limited Edition and Santiago Premium, $14.99 for a 500 ml (16.9 oz) bottle. The Santiago labels have received medals in international competitions, winning gold at Italy’s L’Orciolo d’Oro competition for the last two years. And, the 2010 Flos Olei rated Santiago Limited 92 points, outscoring most of Italy and Spain’s most prestigious labels, and declared it “Best Extra Virgin Olive Oil in Class in 2009.”

I recommend trying any of these, although my favorite of these is the Santiago Limited.

A note of interest: In April, the U.S. Department of Agriculture adopting new standards for olive oils. To be called extra-virgin, the olive oil must be cold-pressed, free of defects and with an acidity of no more than 0.8 grams per 100 grams.

Santiago and O-LIVE & CO oil are available nationally. For a complete listing of retailers and additional information on the oils and the company click here.

– bonnie