O, Citrus Champagne
Regional California Champagne aged in oak with a hint of lemon. Sparkling crisp, light and dry twist of lemon. Uniquely California!
The force behind O is founder Greg Hinson. Back in the 1990s, when he was living with his family in Italy, he noticed that in some regions the local olive oil producers cleaned their presses by pressing lemons, the acid from the fruit cleans the grinding stone used to crush the olives. The oil that resulted was delicious, but never reached market. The oil makers always kept it for themselves. When Hinson returned to the U.S., he began experimenting with meyer lemons, which are more complex and sweeter than regular lemons and the first O citrus olive oil was born in 1995.
Organic citrus is crushed together with the fresh olives. It takes about 1½ lb of fresh, whole citrus to make each bottle of oil. We have but a narrow window when both olives and citrus are ripe and ready for the crush. It's worth the wait. Imagine the first time the 4,000-pound stone wheel of the press begins its slow turn. Dark olives and ripe citrus together.
They neither infuse nor flavor after the fact. You get the whole fruit. The difference is irresistible ! Because the flavors are so deep, O oil is best used as a condiment. Just a tablespoon or two adds a brilliant finish to grilled fish, pasta, greens, vegetables, tomatoes, bread, mayonnaise, pork and chicken.
In 1997 Hinson turned this same respect for simple natural processes to hand crafting varietal wine vinegars.
O Olive Oil & vinegar is one of the few remaining vinegar makers in this country using the old world Orleans method of natural aging in wood barrels rather than mechanically force-aging the vinegars.
The difference is noticeable. In 2003 Cook's illustrated named our O Zinfandel Vinegar, ''Overall Winner Among Gourmet Brands'', touting its ''Distinctly earthy, fruity flavor''.
In the traditional Orlean's method, we fill ventilated oak barrels with premium wine. Seal in the california sun. (Most other vinegars in the market are mechanically aged using artificial flavors and ingredients resulting in what we believe is an inferior product.) O handcrafts each batch only in this ancient, organic Orlean's process. Barrel aged. No chemicals. No preservatives. Just the rich, complex taste of premium wines. Aged over time.
Slowly we introduce into the oak barrels the natural vinegar culture. The wines quietly turn to vinegars of delicious and robust complexity.
Decades ago, a family of immigrants from the far-away azores brought this original vinegar mother or start to california. Gently. Vinegar mothers require protection and care. The same care O brings to vinegar making even today.
O products are a favorite of home cooks and professional chefs alike all over Quebec and Canada. The food industry agrees. O olive oil has been recognized with 17 trophies at the Annual International Fancy Food Show in New York City, including product of the year.