The preparation of the traditional Balsamic Vinegar of Modena DOP
The cooking of the must from white or red grapes takes place in autumn during the harvest, using only the white grapes of Trebbiano Modenese. It is cooked at 80-90°C for about 15-20 hours and boiling point is never reached.
During this phase there is a gradual evaporation and reduction of 40-50% of the volume.
When the product cools, part of its sugar ferments until the cold season and it loses about half of its concentration.
The alcohol obtained is attacked by bacteria and turned into acidity. It’s a natural process.
A classic example of this is an open bottle of wine turning into vinegar.
When the acetification of the fermented must is finished, the bitter-sweet liquid is transported in wooden barrels.
It’s important that the barrels are made of different types of wood: chestnut, oak, acacia, cherry.
Each type of wood gives it its unique flavor and complete aroma.
From each small barrel, only a little small quantity of 3-4 lt maximum is taken per year.
The journey at the balsamic vinegard farm
A series of at least 5 barrels of varying sizes (from large to smalle) is prepared and will be placed in an attic where they will be more exposed to seasonal temperature variations.
During the summer, evaporation of bitter-sweet liquid takes place inside the barrels, while during the last winter months (January-February) the liquid is topped up to the original level by filling it with product from the largest barrel, starting with the smallest barrel.
This processi s repeated until the last barrel, the largest, where the new cooked acetified must (prepared the second year) is added.
Each year topping up of the product to original levels is repeated every year, only during the winter time, after the liquid has evaporated in the summer time.
The first bottling is made only after at least 12 years when the balsamic vinegar has matured. If the bottling take place after 25 years, the product will be called “Extra Vecchio” (extra-old).
The product passes through generations and, in the case of the Rossi and Barattini balsamic vinegar, it has already arrived pass down three: in the first room of the balsamic vinegar factory, in fact, there are barrels that have been aging between aged 18 and 40 years and in the second room, there are barrels that have been in the family for almost 100 years.
Tasting and certification
For the Traditional DOP (Designation of Origin) product, the bottle is unique for all the producers and the quality is tested by sommeliers/expert tasters that decide if the product can be bottle or not.
The vinegar is bottled by the consortium, not by the producer. For the IGP (Protected Geographic Indication) product, on the other hand, each producer is free from quality controls by third parties.
The IGP product is produce in a different way and is composed of cooked concentrated must and wine vinegar is added to give immediate acidity without waiting for the natural process to occur.
The origin of the must is restricted by grape variety, but not by the origin of the place of production.
This certification guarantees the production process but not the quality of the product, which have to be guaranteed by the producer himself.