- Who supplies the olives?
N. L. : "It’s a tradition in Provence to bring the olives from your own garden to the mill..
Every year, this collection period is eagerly awaited by amateurs, professionals, and organisations within a 40-km radius who enjoy maintaining Provençal customs.
At the same time, a growing number of estates bring their output to us, because the mill offers bespoke trituration, or crushing. It also has the AOC Provence appellation and is certified organic."
- When do you start collecting olives in your mill?*
N. L. : "Collection generally starts in mid-October, and this determines the harvesting date for those who supply us. Because we place great importance on the freshness of the olives we receive, we only accept fruit within 48 hours of picking."
- Which varieties do you collect?
N. L. : "The main ones are Picholine, Aglandau or Verdale de Carpentras, Bouteillan, and Arbequine. Every terroir has its own specific varieties. You won't find Picholine and Bouteillan over towards Nice, for example. It’s the same as with grape varieties and wine. And, just like with wine production, blending different varieties of olive produces an oil with a balanced flavour, neither too intense nor too bitter. Our great skill here is in creating a fruity, green oil that suits every palate."
- Is there a minimum quantity you will accept?
N. L. : "I often say “the scales have to move at least a bit”, but it’s true that when a child brings us a handful of olives we're happy to accept the fruits of their labours! The harvest is first and foremost a collective effort that brings everyone together, big or small suppliers. If you want to have your own production, you need 350 kg of your own olives.”"
- What happens to the olives after you receive them?
N. L. : "First of all, the olives brought by individuals are pooled, and put to one side. It’s different with people in the trade because we work by olive variety so we can achieve the right blend, and therefore the best balance of flavours according to the various maturities. After three weeks the Cuvée des Chartreux assemblage is finalised, and the collective batch from the individual harvesters is incorporated into this Cuvée, which has already won several awards. The sense of satisfaction is collective too ;-)"
- So how many litres of oil are produced in this way?
N. L. : "In 2017, the mill collected 150 tonnes of olives and produced around 23,000 litres of Cuvée des Chartreux oil. The Moulin de la Chartreuse only produces enough for its own requirements each year. On average, 7 kg of fruit gives 1 litre of oil. All the inputs are registered in a traceability table so each contributor is repaid in litres of olive oil. And just like 2017, 2018 will be a pretty good year!”"