Sometimes we hear about stories that sound so old to us that we think they belong to a lost and unknown world. “Aceto Balsamico Tradizionale di Modena” and the wooden barrels where it is aged belong to that kind of stories. The importance of “Aceto Balsamico Tradizionale” is showed by the tradition of giving wooden barrels as dowries for brides. Some of those antique barrels, sometimes 150 year old, are still used nowadays remembering us that antique custom.
This is the season when Aceto Balsamico Tradizionale comes to life: in these days grape is harvested. After that, grape is squeezed, grape juice is extracted and the so called must (in Italian “mosto” ) is cooked.
Mosto comes from indigenous varieties like Lambrusco and Trebbiano, harvested later in the season as compared to grapes used for ordinary wines. This later harvest determines an increasing percentage of sugar in spite of acidity: this is a benefit for Aceto Balsamico fermentation.
After that, mosto is boiled and cooked, aged in wooden barrels of different dimension and varieties like oak, chestnut, mulberry, cherry and juniper giving it specific flavors and characteristics.
Producers usually keep their wooden barrels in the loft of their houses were extreme temperatures during summer and winter help respectively fermentation and the rest of cooked must.
The aging is now in the wise and expert hands of producers who take care of filling up wooden barrels after natural evaporation and transfer mosto from a barrel to another.
The aging process requires a long time: at least 12 years or 25 years to be approved and labeled by the Consortium as “Aceto Balsamico Tradizionale”. After the approval, “Aceto Balsamico” is bottled and labeled by the Consortium without any added sugar, neither flavors or preservatives. There is only one bottle where you can find “Aceto Balsamico Tradizionale”: a 100 ml bottle specifically designed by an Italian designer named Giorgetto Giugiaro, famous for designing as well Ferrari car.
There are different theories about its origins, peculiar stories concerning wooden barrels, many stories concerning trade of wooden barrels, many secrets for its production, many political issues for safeguarding “Aceto Balsamico Tradizionale”. Aceto Balsamico Tradizionale is displayed on delicatessen shops and you don’t have to confuse it with the commercial ones that can be found in any supermarket. There is just a certainty: tasting “Aceto Balsamico Tradizionale” is a privilege.
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