Olive Agencies Information Services


Frantoio is the most noted olive oil variety of Tuscany, Italy,  and one of the most highly acclaimed oil varieties in the world. It is grown  commercially in most olive growing regions including Italy, north Africa, Australia, Argentina and California. Under the name 'Paragon', Frantoio olives  have also well proven themselves in most olive growing regions of  Australia.

DNA Identification

Due to its many noticed similarities to Frantoio, it was suspected in the late nineties that Paragon and the famous Tuscan variety  Frantoio were in fact the same.

This was confirmed in October 1998, when an Olives Australia Paragon leaf sample was DNA analysed at the World Germplasm Bank of Olive Cultivars in Spain and found to match the DNA of Frantoio. Olives Australia then  forwarded another 20 samples of its Paragon mother trees to the Bank and in  January 1999 confirmation came through that every one of the samples had matched  with the DNA of Frantoio.

Frantoio olive trees have been grown in Italy for centuries  under at least 19 synonyms such as Frantoiano, Correggiolo, Raggio, Gentile and  Razzo. However, Italian DNA research in late 1998 showed that 12 Frantoio synonyms tested were all genetically different to some degree. (The cultivars studied were: Cellin di Noardo, Taggiasca, Razza, Sargano, Correggiolo, Cimia di Bitonto, Ogliarola, Leccese, Minuta, Razzola, Casaliva and Raja sabina.)

Just for interest, in Tuscany, Italy, an olive oil processing  factory is also called a 'Frantoio'.


Under the name Paragon, the oil content was tested by two  independent Australian laboratories in the 1994 season and found to be 23.5%.  Further testing was done at two harvest dates in the 1999 season with 22.0% and  23.9% resulting (Soxhlet method using whole fruit and standardised to 50%  moisture). This variety has provided high percentages of very high quality oil  to processors across Australia for many years. (Italian sources list the oil content of Frantoio at between 21% and 23%.)

The variety is self pollinating with high, constant  productivity. For growers choosing pollination, the recommended pollinators  would be Pendolino, Maurino or Leccino. The tree is early-season in fruit-set  and has an ovarian abortion rate which rarely exceeds 10%, sometimes being as low as 1%.

Frantoio (Paragon) produces a heavy crop ready for oil harvesting in the mid-to-late season. The fruit ripens gradually which allows a  longer harvest window than faster-ripening varieties.

Frantoio (Paragon) olives are small to medium size (2 to 3g) and oval in shape. The olives have a pleasant nutty flavour when pickled. When  mature, the fruit are coloured purple-black, but at the preferred harvest time for oil production are green and purple-green. The highly noted oil is of fruity  character, highly aromatic and of leading quality.

Frantoio (Paragon) trees are fast-growing and have been proven to crop well in many parts of the world ranging from the cold of Tuscany, Italy  to warmer regions of southern Queensland and central Argentina. (It should be  noted that when grown in warmer winter regions, young Frantoio trees can tend to  put too much energy into foliage growth at the expense of the first crops. Until scientific research is done, it is recommended that Frantoio trees showing  excessive vigour in the third and fourth years should have reduced quantities of  irrigation and fertiliser to bring them into flowering.)

Frantoio (Paragon) has been proven to be one of  the best varieties to plant in marginal and tough conditions such as soils with a high percentage of clay or rocks, and dam banks.

Organoleptic Assessment

Frantoio oil is so widely acclaimed that it is difficult to  summarise its attributes on paper. Here are some comments:

"Frantoio di Santa Tea (Reggello) - An estate bottled oil from Tuscany and as the name suggests it's made from a single variety of Frantoio  olives, hence the premium price. I like the assertiveness of this oil with its lovely green flavours." (A Buyers Guide to Olive Oil,  Anne Dolomore, 1994.)

"... the oils from the ... Frantoio ... present peaks  corresponding to the 'fruity' sensation in optimum quantity, along with a good presence of 2-esenal, which adds to the 'fruity' taste a sensation of 'fresh'." (Influence of Cultivars on the Composition and Quality  of Olive Oil, International Society for Horticultural Science, Fontanazza, 1994.)

"... we can list other varieties that are intended primarily for oil extraction, and only in part for table consumption, ie. Leccino, Razzola and Frantoio in particular." (Table Olive Processing, International Olive Oil Council, 1990.)

"It [Frantoio] is rich in oil (between 17 and 22%) which is  very fruity, notably aromatic and of high quality." (The  Certified Olive Trees of Co.ripr.ol, 1998.)