It seems a lifetime ago, but in 2007 we went and lived in Austria for 6 months. Sylvia was studying, on exchange with a University in Vienna, and I went too.
We lived in the suburbs, got out and about as much as we could, and loved it.
We were only 12 km from the centre of Vienna, but it was borderline countryside. Across the river, (the Danube, of course!) were steep hills covered in wineries and there were farms quite close.
Wine, and wineries, huerigans, cafes were all completely different to what we were used to.
In Autumn the grapes are harvested. But unlike here, in Vienna you can purchase something called Sturm (Schtoo-erm). Someone told me about it, and I went into the local bottle shop to find it.
My German was sort of ok. I could bluff my way through buying a train ticket, but missed the punchline of jokes. But the shopkeeper knew what I wanted, and was very enthusiastic. "You are very lucky. It just came in this afternoon…very fresh!"
She went out the back and came back with an enormous glass flagon. At least three litres. No handle, and oddly, tinfoil wrapped around the top. Dubiously, she eyed my backpack as I unzipped it and maneuvered the heavy flagon into it.
"You must be careful", I thought she said, "It has no lid".
It looked ok to me. I smiled my village-idiot smile that I used when I had no idea where the conversation was going, paid and left.
When I got home I plonked the backpack on the bench and unzipped my prize. It wasn't hard to get the foil off…and…it had no lid. I had hauled litres of liquid home with just a foil covering, no seal?! Wha..
Oh well, it needed to be tasted, so with a lot of caution I tipped the flagon and extracted a glass of cloudy wine. It fizzed. It was sweet, and if anything, tasted like ginger beer.
Sturm is early wine, still fermenting, still unfiltered. It can't be capped…because it would explode!
By the time Sylvia got home I was well into the experience. Over the next few weeks I bought more, but as the time went by the fizz diminished and it started to become a different product. And then one day it was no longer available.
Which brings me to Olio Nuovo. After our olive crop is crushed, the new oil is returned to us. It’s a quick turnaround, sometime less than 24 hours from the fruit leaving the tree to us sampling the oil.
And new oil has a look and taste unlike anything you would expect from olive oil. Its lush and thick, but smells so floral it makes you think of …say…an apple and peach fruit juice. The thickness is mostly due to the suspended particles of crushed olive, and the oil has a cloudy, vivid green color.
In six weeks the particles have settled and the oil is a lot clearer, less green and more golden, and well on the way to becoming wonderful, world-class Australian olive oil. There's lots for us to do to rack off the clarified oil and separate out the sediment.
But in those few weeks the new oil is an amazing, shortlived experience for those who can hold of it.
We are doing two harvests this year, which will extend our ability to supply Olio Nuovo.
If you would like to try it you need to get in quick. It will be available from the 12 May, and I am hoping we will be able to supply is until the end of July. But once its gone…you'll have to wait another twelve months.