I've discovered that Tesco has a competitively priced own-brand extra virgin olive. I'd like to include it my comparison tasting against the current leader, Sainsbury's, and others. But no branch of Tesco nearby stocks it. While I'm waiting to obtain a bottle I decided to try their Greek Extra Virgin.
This oil is currently on offer at a reduced price — down from £3.25 to £2.50 for a 500ml bottle. Rocket scientists will swiftly realise that this is five quid a litre, which puts it well out of our comparison tasting sweepstakes (where we're looking at four quid or less) but I couldn't resist trying it, not least because I've been wanting to try some Greek oils for a while.
Tesco's Greek extra virgin is pleasant, tasty, and distinctive. It has the interesting characteristic of combining buttery smoothness (which I think of as a Spanish trait) with an herbaceous bitterness (which I associate with Italian oils). Very nice. I compared it with the Sainsbury's own brand, which is also agreeably bitter. The Sainsbury's doesn't have any of that buttery flavour and its bitterness is more complex, with a longer finish, tasting of green grass and dark chocolate.
Which you prefer is of course a matter of personal taste, but the Sainsbury's is remarkably classy and sophisticated for a cheap oil — £1.15 a litre cheaper than the Teso Greek, even when it's on special. And when you consider that the Tesco Greek is almost twice as costly as the cheapest oil in our recent tastings (Lidl's Primadonna at £2.79 a litre) it doesn't seem like a contender for we gourmet cheapskates.
(Image credits: the Tesco Greek is from My Supermarket. And the Sainsbury's one too.)