Masía el Altet Family


Commitment to tradition

The best olive oil in the world - Masía el Altet

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The surrounding area

In the collective imagination, the province of Alicante is represented by an idyllic picture of beaches with golden sand and hidden coves, a history fashioned by native and foreign cultures, a gastronomy that is as varied as it is hedonistic and, of course, a disturbing wild and arid landscape but where we also find olive groves from which to extract our extra virgin olive oil.

It is true to say that, in general, this impression is not far wrong. However, if we investigate a little further, we will discover the infinity of natural resources dotted around its uplands in corners yet to be explored.

When we leave the coast and head inland, here and there authentic oases of life emerge. These are areas of great environmental value, almost always protected by the local authorities. Among these enclaves, the Font Roja Natural Park and the Sierra de Mariola Natural Park stand out owing to their wealth of fauna and especially, to their abundant flora and this is precisely where we find our Masía el Altet.

Looking out over the Mediterranean, barely 30 kilometres away as the crow flies, and at a height of between 800 and 1,390 metres, pines, holm oaks, savin junipers, common junipers, ashes, maples, gall-oaks and so many other species have lived together for centuries, oblivious to the passage of time.

At their feet, the stony ground that descends the sides of hills and outcrops of rock towards small valleys is carpeted by an infinity of medicinal plants and aromatic herbs. Savory, heather, hawthorn, lavender, fennel, St John’s wort, lemon balm, oregano, thyme, sage, buckthorn, wall germander… There are so many that, after having catalogued more than 1,200 varieties, the botanic community has no doubt in classifying this privileged area as the richest natural reserve in the world in terms of medicinal plants and aromatic herbs.

And that is not all. Since time immemorial, the explosion of colours and aromas that impregnate the atmosphere, depending on the season, has been enriched by those of the olive. This tree, so Mediterranean but also well-established in this unique environment, has not only learned to acclimatize to the cold winters and warm summers that determine the climate of the area but has moreover, learnt to take advantage of the extensive range of temperatures on a daily basis to produce a higher presence of polyphenols in the extra virgin olive oils that Masía el Altet has been extracting from its fruits for many generations and which have resulted in their being catalogued as the best extra virgin olive oils in the world.

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Sierra de Mariola natural Park under snow
Olive grove, Masía El Altet
Masía El Altet extra virgin olive oil
The best olive oil in the world

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The petit family Masía el Altet

02

History

The olive is a robust and vigorous tree, able to bear the most extreme weather conditions, from prolonged droughts to intense heat and cold. But, when all is said and done, it is still a cultivated species that requires human intervention in order to bring out the best in itself and, in a great show of generosity, deliver its finest fruit for the elaboration of extra virgin olive oil.

This is precisely what the olive trees of Masía el Altet have been doing since the seventeenth century, generation after generation, until Jorge Petit, their current owner, decided to put his faith in them and develop their well-deserved prominence.

And that decision was not the result of chance or whim. Far from it. It was a way of returning to his roots when, still a child, he chose to spend his summer holidays on an estate in the country with Aurelia, his maternal grandmother, while his parents and brothers preferred to cool down in the waters of the Mediterranean.

When Jorge remembers those times, he can still hear the song of the cicadas during the summer siestas, the sound of the wind passing through the pine needles, the concert of the crickets under the silvery wake of the pigeons at the break of dawn or marking the rhythm of their flight, and dusk with the bright light of the glow-worms.

Without any greater effort, he can also recall with nostalgia the scent of the apples and plums when picked from the tree and laid in the basket, or that of the storms that refreshed the atmosphere and perfumed it with their unmistakable fragrance.

There are so many memories that a future far away from them seemed inconceivable. For that reason, as an adult, Jorge acquired the family property to set up home there with his wife, Clara, and their children, also called Jorge and Clara. Only thus could he continue to embrace the stimuli of his childhood and, why not, he could also create other new ones through his olive trees, to which he has entrusted, since 2006, the task of producing the best olive oil in the world. Since then the trees, ever obliging, have managed year after year to seduce the juries of the most prestigious international competitions.

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Philosophy

When he embarked on this new adventure, Jorge dreamed of trapping in a bottle of olive oil the genuine essence of his particular universe. And he quickly understood that, to achieve his objective, he needed to preserve the family traditions he had inherited, but also to embrace the advantages offered by technology and the strict environmental practices established by the system of integrated agriculture. Only in this way could he achieve the quality in his extra virgin olive oil at which he aimed and guarantee, at the same time, the conservation of his beloved natural surroundings. And so they were born four unique products, as High Quality, Premium, Special Selection and High End.

Spread across the 70 hectares of his estate, Jorge catalogued some 2,000 olive trees of the native Genovesa, Blanqueta and Alfafarenca varieties. They had been there for centuries, giving their best, caressed by the sun and the Mediterranean breeze. Little could they imagine the special care that, in the form of pruning and other attentions, they would soon receive to help them to perform the tasks entrusted to them.

From 1995, and with the same objective, Jorge added a further 3,000 trees of the Arbequina variety, 7,000 Picual and 2,000 of the native Changlot Real variety. A total of 14,000 olive trees that quench their thirst with the water they receive from the natural springs born in the surrounding mountains. Trees which, thanks to their privileged location, live far from pollutants and safe from attacks by pests and diseases.

Such a fine mise-en-scène could not stop at the cultivation stage. It had to be continued with the production of excellent quality extra virgin olive oil recognized worldwide.

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Oil mill Masía el Altet
Olives Masía el Altet
Mill Masía el Altet
The best olive oil in the world

04

Commitment

Not all olives reach optimum maturity at the same time. Some do so later than others, but that does not matter. At Masía el Altet we know how to be patient and to wait for the right moment to pick them and transport them to the oil mill quickly without damaging them. An oil mill that benefits from the latest technology to extract the juices with all their properties intact, by means of exclusively mechanical procedures and at controlled low temperatures.

With this same purpose in mind, the extra virgin olive oils obtained are stored in stainless steel tanks inside our air conditioned storeroom.

Temperature control is almost an obsession at Masía el Altet and for this reason, some of these tanks have an additional refrigeration system, designed by the company itself. This is not obvious from their outward appearance and one must look into their structure to discover the secret of this ingenious device. The casing is divided into three stainless steel sleeves, of different diameters, which are inserted inside each other. The inner sleeve holds the olive oil, whilst a coil of cold water runs through the middle one, always maintaining the oil at a constant temperature of between 13 and 15ºC. The outside sleeve incorporates insulating rock wool, making the tank isothermal.

With the temperature under control, the contents remain inert and protected from oxidation by a process that replaces air with nitrogen.

In this way, the Petit family supervises each and every one of the processes that contribute to the production of perhaps the best olive oil in the world.