A really cool gift, in 1792, a carafe of balsamic was sent by Duke Ercole III d’Este to Francis I of Austria. And not just for an occasion but for his coronation as an emperor. Therefore, already from the time of the Renaissance, the special vinegar produced in Modena and Reggio Emilia has entered into the bequest of the leading families, into the best dowries of the wives of the aristocrats and into the treasure of the most renowned European families.
Traditional Balsamic Vinegar, which seems to have sunk its roots into this area in Roman times, is now known all around the world. Since 2000 this noble and ancient product boasts recognition of the Protected Designation of Origin (DOP) and it is guaranteed by the Consortium of the same name which defends and promotes the quality and the entire cultural heritage.
The particular properties of the grapes of Modena and Reggio Emilia, the wisdom in the art of cooking the must and patience in the caring procedures of the production cycle, give Traditional Balsamic Vinegar, not to be confused with Balsamic of Modena of Protected Geographical Indication (IGP) and which is suitable for everyday use, an extraordinary character.
The production starts with the choice of the sweetest grapes, strictly from Modena or Reggio Emilia, after a soft-pressing the must is cooked at ambient pressure over direct fire, to get the right level of concentration, flavour and fragrance, then cooled and placed in the “mother barrel”, where it ferments and acetifies for use in the annual reserve of the batch. The batch consists of at least 5 barrels, often of different woods, because each wood gives the vinegar a particular characteristic: chestnut contributes to the dark colour, mulberry concentrates the product more quickly, juniper gives the resin extract, cherry sweetens the flavour, while oak gives a typical vanilla scent. The barrels are of decreasing volume and bring the product to fruition. After ageing, if for at least 12 years the product is called “Refined”, if for at least 25 years the is called “Extra Old”, the “Balsamic” is awarded by the Consortium. Here, in the Consortium premises, if approved by the Committee of Expert Taster, it is packed on the typical bottle of 100 ml, which states that only the product inside has passed all of the checks by the production regulations.
Traditional Balsamic Vinegar, preferably used raw, need only a few drops to enhance the aroma and taste of each dish. It is best experienced with Parmesan Reggiano and strawberries, it is delicious in a salad with olive oil and goes perfectly with roast and boiled meats.
Source: Accademia Barilla book