Monte do Chão da Vã is situated about 15 kms northwest of the Portuguese city of Castelo Branco, which is in the central part of the country towards the border with Spain.

The “Monte” is an area of rising ground across the River Tripeiro from the village of Chão da Vã. Allegedly the river obtained its name because in the distant past the water was so clean that people from settlements around about washed the tripes of their slaughtered animals in it. The river is still that clean and it is still used for washing tripes. The river is one of my farm boundaries.

Olives are a major crop throughout the whole of Portugal and the Castelo Branco district is no exception. The Portuguese word for a small farm is quinta and olives are the main crop on the quinta of Monte do Chão da Vã. The quinta has been developed over the past few years from a fairly neglected block of ground to a productive small farm. Other tree crops are in the early stages of establishment.

PRODUCTS

I have kept the prices of products as low as possible. Unfortunately much of the cost is made up of postage charges and Portuguese VAT. Even so the prices are low compared to similar products offered via the internet because I grow the olives that go to make the oil used in the products on offer.

I welcome trade enquiries, where under present regulations, registered VAT businesses in other countries of the EU do not have VAT added; and a bigger order permits the use of couriers, which considerably reduces transport costs on individual items.

Olive oil is very similar to wine in many respects. The oil can only be as good as the fruit that makes it, together with the skill of the mill and the handling of the oil afterwards. Hand picking and grading ensures clean sound fruit is delivered to the mill; the modern one I use in Castelo Branco is staffed by very competent people and the bulk oil is then transferred to the semi underground cellar of the quinta to settle before either putting into tins or being transformed into the saponified products offered on the website.

The oil is supplied in 500ml tins. Tins were chosen (as they are by many producers) to eliminate the risk of breakages in transport, and for their other advantages. Light and heat are the worst enemies of any food oil. Light degrades the oil very quickly and even coloured bottles should be stored in the dark. Heat, either from a cooker, other appliance or sunlight also spoils the oil. Consequently EVOO should be stored away from any sources of direct heat and preferably kept at a constant temperature. Do not store it in the fridge. Cold temperatures make the oil begin to solidify. Little harm is done, but it would need to be warmed to room temperature before using.

The oil is unfiltered and, like unfiltered wine, this means a very small amount of sedimentation might develop. This is a natural occurrence and generally seen in olive growing areas as being beneficial to the quality of the oil as it has had minimum interference between crushing the fruit and packaging the oil for the consumer.

The Portuguese olive cultivars grown to produce the oil are approximately 60% Cobrançosa, 20% Cordovil and 20% Negrinha. There are a very small number of individual trees of other cultivars used to assist in pollination of the main ones. The mix of cultivars produces a blend that results in a high quality Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO) each year.

AZEITE DO MONTE

Extra Virgin Olive Oil

1 X 500ml tin  £14.00

2 X 500ml tins  £24.50

3 X 500ml tins  £30.00

6 X 500ml tins  £54.30

10 X 500ml tins  £76.00

Prices are inclusive of taxes and carriage.

All prices include delivery by post and Portuguese VAT, which is currently 6%. I am obliged to charge these taxes to private customers.

I was first prompted to make a Leather Dressing after reading an old article by Don Gonzales where he recommended olive oil and beeswax based leather conditioners, and oiling leather with olive oil. It then occurred to me that going back a few hundred years, or even a couple of millennia or more; it was likely that around the Mediterranean basin (think ancient Greeks, Egyptians, Romans, Phoenicians etc.) leather would be cleaned and maintained with the use of olive oil. As a farmer I am aware that it takes a lot of extra feed to put a little bit of fat on an animal, and given the harshness of times long ago I would expect every morsel of animal fat to have been consumed by humans; but olives have been plentiful for thousands of years.

Monte Leather Dressing is based on Monte EVOO and beeswax. There is nothing in it to cause any harm to leather, but it is sensible to test any leather care product on a small unimportant area when first using them because any product may affect the colour of the leather.

The Dressing is used to clean leather that is only slightly grubby or clean. For dirty leather – boots and shoes that have had to travel through mud, or the general mud that seems to appear from nowhere in Britain, I suggest first removing excess mud and then washing the leather with Monte EVOO Unscented soap, which is saponified Monte EVOO and nothing else. A slightly damp soft brush (a toothbrush is ideal for most items) or a cloth is used to apply the soap to the leather. Clean it off with a sponge or cloth and clean water – just as you would remove soap from your skin.

Allow the leather item to completely dry – naturally. Do not apply any heat or put it in the sunshine. Then use the Dressing, and apply in the same way as the soap. Use only as much as necessary. Do not apply the Dressing to wet leather because the beeswax will trap moisture within it. If you want to polish the item, then do so with a soft cloth when the Dressing has dried.

If you oil your leather every few months, then why not raid the kitchen cupboard and use a small amount of Monte EVOO? I note that Don Gonzalez uses Olive Pomace Oil (OPO). The USA is not a member of the International Olive Council so USA descriptions of olive oils and standards are not the same there, but the UK and the rest of Europe are members of the IOC. Whilst OPO is cheaper than EVOO the user should be aware that the IOC states this oil is not to be called “Olive Oil”. It is likely that solvents or other chemicals have been used to extract oil from the olive pomace.

You will find that my price for Monte Leather Dressing is way down at the bottom end of the price scale for any leather cleaning or conditioning product, the only oil in it is my own EVOO and as explained above, I grow the olives. The supply chain is very short – from olive grower direct to Dressing buyer.

The Dressing is supplied in plastic tubs with a push on lid. Each tub has a capacity of 110mls, but in case there is a little shrinkage after filling it is marketed as 100mls.

MONTE LEATHER DRESSING

Extra Virgin Olive Oil Based Leather Dressing

 1 X 100ml plastic tub  £6.00

 2 X 100ml plastic tubs  £9.00

 4 X 100ml plastic tubs  £15.80

Prices are inclusive of taxes and carriage.

All prices include delivery by post and Portuguese VAT, which is 23% on this product. I am obliged to charge these taxes to private customers.

The three soaps offered were chosen after trialling several different scents amongst relatives and acquaintances around the years 2006 and 2007. Lavender and Lemon were the most popular and there were some people who preferred no scent in the soap.

The soap contains only saponified Monte EVOO, with the addition of the Essential Oil of Lavender or Lemon in the scented versions. These EOs are purchased from Spain, where the distillation of oils is a specialised business. It takes an enormous quantity of flowers to produce a tiny amount of Lavender EO.

Each soap is a 50g oval bar in a drawstring bag and resealable polythene bag. This makes a bar eminently suitable as a small gift.

For trade enquiries, or a larger private order, please email eieio@sapo.pt for prices. It does not take a very big order to warrant sending by courier rather than mail, thereby considerably reducing transport costs. As little as four tins of EVOO or three tins and some Leather Dressing and soap would be sufficient. A couple of relatives or friends may join in your order, or you could buy some presents. Each private order enquiry will be separately quoted with a view to minimising transport costs.

SOAP

Extra Virgin Olive Oil Based Soap

Please note that because of postal costs there is a minimum order of 3 bars. These can be a single scent or a mixture.

Lavender Scented EVOO soap

£2.70

Lemon Scented EVOO soap

£2.55

Unscented EVOO soap

£2.20

Prices are inclusive of taxes and carriage.

All prices include delivery by post and Portuguese VAT, which is 23% on these products. I am obliged to charge these taxes to private customers.