- Value: 19/20
- Ease of Use: 20/20
- Quality: 20/20
- Aesthetics: 20/20
- Taste: 19/20
First, a little background: Launched in January, Graza creates nutrient-dense, fresh-never-blended olive oils that come in a handy squeeze bottle (which looks damn good on the kitchen counter, if we do say so ourselves). Currently, there are two varieties to try: Drizzle, a unique finishing oil that’s meant to be consumed straight from the bottle, and Sizzle, an all-purpose cooking oil.
Graza was the result of cofounder Andrew Benin’s three-year stint in Andalusia, Spain, but it didn’t take nearly as long for him to observe the importance of olive oil in the region. “Olive oil is the glue to everything, and that was just from watching my wife’s mom cook.”
After driving through the Sierra de Cádiz and visiting a slew of olive oil co-ops, Benin learned that many of their oils were so fresh that they were impossible to export. Unfiltered and made from unstable olive varietals, they couldn’t withstand a trip overseas. The suppliers he spoke to urged him to go to Jaén, where more than half the world’s olive oil is produced. There and in all of Andalusia, the Picual olive reigns. Robust in taste and essentially exclusive to the region, Graza’s olives are harvested in Sierra de Cazorla. The entire production process, from picking to bottling, happens in one place, and the olives are pressed no more than six hours after being harvested.
If you’re only familiar with supermarket olive oil, Graza’s unique offerings are probably unlike any you’ve ever had. “Picual is powerful in flavor,” Benin explains. “A preconditioning of people to neutral oils, I’m kind of against—like, your food should taste like stuff.”
Not only does pure Picual olive oil taste better than the old, cheap blends we’re used to (Benin warns that oil labeled “Mediterranean blend” or one made from olives from multiple countries usually reflects poor quality, as the brand likely got the cheapest oils available from multiple producers), but they’re also bursting with beneficial polyphenols and antioxidants. They have the longest shelf-life of any varietal out there, as well as the highest smoke point.