hello, I recall seeing a thread about extra vir. olive oil getting more expensive--didn't read it, but probably some kinds are, and some are not (beyond harvest/weather fluctuations there are always our buddies, currency exchange rates, trade agreements, and fuel costs tied to crude oil prices) One can find useable quality stuff for $10 or less per liter at TJ's, and that's pretty reasonable.
Kermit the wine importer brings in other foodstuffs and has 750 ml.units bottled in France, labelled in French, contents grown and pressed in Spain. Bottled just like wine, with a covered cork requiring a screwpull. At 50% discount it's 8.50, and the reason is, it's passed the "best used before" date(12/05 in this instance). The harvest or packing date usually found in tiny markings somewhere on the label is m.i.a., and most examples of different oils I've examined have a two year span between the harvest/pressing and the b.u.b. dates.
I conducted an informal unscientific comparison tasting with two other ex. virgin oils which happend to be Italian, one from the Veneto, harvest '05 ($6 for 500 ml), and one brought back from Lucca, estate grown and bottled in that area, harvest '03, likely the same as the Spanish (9 eur./500 ml). All were at least acceptable. Predictably, the freshest (veneto) was the biggest and brashest, but probably the least appealing by itself or on the plain crusty Acme rolls. Fine for dressing or finishing soups and pasta. The most appealing, soft and sweet, was the Tuscan, and hardly the worse from regular pantry storage. The Spanish was the most delicate, with a peppery accent and pleasant (uncured olive) bitter note, well within the "useable" range, and with its light body, suitable for cooking. I purchased an extra bottle that I'll store with the wine in the basement.
For those unfamiliar,Kermit Lynch is in Berkeley on San Pablo Ave at Cedar, sharing the same parking lot as Cafe Fanny and Acme bakery. They also have a premium Provencal oil for $28/750 ml. Winers who dislike temptation should not visit. salud