A HUSBAND and wife from Lostock have brought a taste of the Mediterranean to their home town with their specialist olive oils and balsamic vinegars.

Phil and Janet Bianchi, who own the family-run business The Gift of Oil, started their firm in 2000 after Mr Bianchi was made redundant from his job selling olive oil around the world.

The couple decided to tap into the quality oil and vinegar market and now work with three olive oil-producing families in Sicily, Portugal and Puglia, in Italy, as well as four artisan vinegar-producing familes.

They make their unique blends before the products are shipped to the UK to be bottled and sold.

Fresh olives are picked from trees ready to be squeezed before Mr Bianchi tastes, blends and creates three signature flavours, along with a number of infusions such as chilli-garlic and basil.

Meanwhile the balsamic vinegars are matured in oak, cherry, juniper, mulberry and ash barrels for two, five, 12 and 25 years to develop intensity of flavour.

The couple’s business is involved in more than 100 events a year, including the Bolton Food and Drink Festival, and will be opening its doors for a weekend next month to invite people to come along and taste the difference.

Mr Bianchi said: “I used to sell olive oil all over the world, but it was your commercial supermarket kind of oil. When I was made redundant, I thought I could either do the same kind of job or do it myself.

“I had made enough contacts, so found a beautiful estate where the olives are picked and squeezed before being blended into our three single estate extra virgin olive oils.

“I go over regularly to taste and blend the oils to make sure that the quality is perfect. Sometimes the taste from the high ground and low ground olives are slightly different.

“The oil is kept in a big tank where no oxygen comes into contact with it before it is brought over to the UK where we bottle, cap and label it.

“With the vinegar, it is kept in different types of wooden barrels for two, five, 12 and 25 years. The longer that the balsamic vinegar is matured the more intense the flavours become, so the 25 year old is much heavier and syrup-like in texture, but tastes much stronger.”

The company was at Bolton Enterprise Centre, but in 2011 it moved over to Eton Business Park in Radcliffe.

Mr Bianchi said: “It is a wonderful industry to work in. I get to live between Bolton, which has become my home town since marrying Janet — and Italy.

“Janet is a speech and language therapist but she still helps out with tasting events and trade shows.”

  • The Gift of Oil will be opening its shop doors for a tasting session on May 10 and 11. For more information, call 0161 7255266.