Written by Leska Tomash – High above Marbella, Spain, nestled between the Sierra Blanca mountain range and the foothills of the Sierra de las Nieves, the enchanting Belvís de las Navas estate and their olive oil are something out of a fairytale—with a little dash of mystery and science lab (and a lot of hard work)! Let me explain.
So, a fairytale must have a grand setting and with its sweeping views of Gibraltar, the Mediterranean Sea and the coasts of Africa the truly breathtaking estate fits the bill. And of course, there must be romance! And what love runs deeper than the love of the land?
(Watch below to get a glimpse of this magical estate!)
It began in the 1940s when Piedad de Yturbe, Marquise of Belvís de las Navas– the matriarch of the golden era of Marbella– fell in love with the Costa del Sol region. Later, her son Prince Alfonso zu Hohenlohe founded The Marbella Club Hotel.
And now, Piedad’s grandson, Sandro Gamzo Hohenlohe, currently has taken the reins of the estate following along with inspiration by his mother “Xandra,” his wife Marie-Caroline and a “small but authoritative team” (marabellaclub.com). They have rolled up their sleeves to literally start digging in the dirt. So, now, what about the mystery?
The tall cliffs, steep slopes and narrow terraces of the Belvís de las Navas estate create a unique microclimate that has been difficult to access over the years. The groves were abandoned for decades, untouched and undiscovered.
It began when Sandro and his family and team started to clear the estate to protect against forest fires. And there, among the weeds and overgrowth, they discovered the ancient olive grove of unidentified varieties. They ground the olives and made oil for their own personal use.
The aroma and flavor were so exceptional and unique, they decided to search for more olive trees. After another olive oil producer in Andalusia offered to buy their olives, Sandro thought, Why not do it ourselves? Under our own name? The family had always been passionate about the countryside, the people, agriculture and foods of the highest quality. It seemed a natural move to bottle and sell this special oil. The olive oil is produced using traditional non-irrigation methods and strict organic guidelines, a business decision based both in respect for the environment and a strategic business move that allowed such a small estate to add value to their newly-born company.
What about the science lab stuff I mentioned?
The revival of the grove brought with it a world of unedited DNA. Belvis uses at least seven varieties of olives in their oil including Hojiblanca, Picudo and Verdial Vélez Málaga as well as the wild olive strain, Acebuchina. But, according to the DNA data bank of the most important olive trees in the world (IDOLIVE), Belvis has at least four varieties that have yet to be recognized or classified! These Belvis-specific varieties date back to Moorish times and are unknown beyond this region. When combined with the other varieties, the result is a coupage–an other-worldly, one-of-a-kind blend.
So, what’s the flavor profile, you might ask?
This organic olive oil holds aromas of freshly cut grass, ripe tomatoes, artichoke with a hint of almond and spicy note on the finish. The varieties create this unique flavor, but so does the process. The olives are collected early in the season and crushed every day of the harvest at low temperatures in order to preserve the healthy antioxidants known as polyphenols. Take all of this–the history, the hard work, the oil–and put it in a pristine white stone ceramic bottle designed by Marie-Caroline with a sketch of the view from the estate of Gibraltar and the coast of Africa, top it with a natural cork, and you truly have magic in a bottle.