Oléologue-un-expert-amoureux-du-produit-des-dieux-Neo-Restauration-du-01-juin-2015 Huilerie Saint Michel

Oleologist, an expert in love with the product of the gods – Neo Restauration of June 1, 2015

Attentive to terroirs and origins, these specialists are also and above all scientists who judge the quality of an oil according to criteria based on very detailed regulations.

The sine qua non condition for becoming an oleologist? Love of nature. Christian Pinatel, technical director of the Olive Technical Center in Aix-en-Provence, loves the fruit as much as the tree. But contrary to what one might think, his specialty is not limited to the analysis of samples, in other words, to tasting. He is also an expert who has physicochemical and sensory analysis laboratories in order, in particular, to optimize the quality of the oil and its extraction in the mill. Among its other missions: weekly monitoring of the evolution of the maturity of the olives in order to determine the best harvest date.

Christian Pinatel also occupies the position of official jury head at the French Interprofessional Olive Association (Afidol), a private organization recognized by the State which brings together partners from the entire French olive industry. Its role consists of controlling the regulatory aspects linked to the product, because the organoleptic qualities and chemical data of olive oil are governed by very strict standards. This regulation, in place for thirty years, has made it possible to meet the requirements defined when organizing events – local competitions, for example.

For Christian Pinatel, therefore, no subjectivity possible, but indeed rigorous work. You have to be able to find the particularities of an oil, that of Corsican oil, for example – sweet with marked aromas – in order to preserve the diversity of the vintages and the very old practices linked to the terroir. “One of my most important and favorite activities around olive oil tasting remains the training of specialists,” emphasizes Christian Pinatel. It is about introducing others, mainly producers, to the diversity of oils and tasting techniques. I developed most of these techniques myself. »

“Creator of flavors”

In addition to his agricultural engineering studies, Christian Pinatel followed a three-month training course on the red soils of olive trees, in Jaén, in Andalusia. In France, a diploma course has been created at the Faculty of Pharmacy in Montpellier, linked to oenology. Because there are also other types of “oleologists”, often employed by a brand, whose work is similar to that of oenologists. These specialists are sometimes trained agronomists or chemists.

Karim Djekhar, expert or “flavor creator” as he calls himself, was born into a family in northeastern Algeria that owned olive groves. Arriving in Menton at a very young age, he managed to convince the owner of the local oil mill (founded in 1896) to take him on as a trainee. There he learned everything about olive oil, from the commercial aspect to production and selection. Then, ten years ago, he became the owner of the oil mill with his brothers. His passion for the product, coupled with his love for catering, led him to contact Mauro Colagreco, starred chef at Mirazur, in Menton, to add an olive oil with lemons from Chin. “To a young person who would like to become an oleologist, I would say that the best training is to love nature. To do this job, you must have a taste for contact with the land and with the producers. And, of course, you have to study agronomy and chemistry... because it's a very technical profession! » “I consider the improvement in the quality of olive oils in France over the past twenty years to be one of my best personal results,” recalls Christian Pinatel. And I am very happy when producers who put my advice into practice win medals in competitions. »

“In a tasting, it is important to evaluate the whole and see if there is harmony between the aromas and flavors. They will be balanced or unbalanced. » Karim Djekhar, Huilerie Saint-Michel, in Menton

“Olive oil is a particular food product because it is managed by specific regulations which take into account chemical and organoleptic characteristics. » Christian Pinatel, technical director of the Olive Tree Technical Center, in Aix-en-Provence

Christian Pinatel, oleologist, Olive Technical Center – Aix-en-Provence © François Moura / Alpaca / Andia.fr © François Moura / Alpaca / Andia.fr


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