How Balsamic Vinegar is made
As well as the different official denominations, Balsamic Vinegars are also characterized by the producer’s particular style and sensitivity.
Traditional Balsamic Vinegar of Reggio Emilia PDO is made from just one ingredient: the must of white and red (Trebbiano and Lambrusco) grapes grown in Reggio Emilia.
The must is reduced by boiling, after which it undergoes an initial alcoholic fermentation, followed by acidic fermentation caused by acetic acid bacteria. After this, the fermented liquid starts its long maturation in a series of different size casks (from 2/3 to 10/15 litre capacity) made of different wood species.
The six wood species required by production regulations for PDO (Protected Denomination of Origin) Balsamic Vinegar of Reggio Emilia are: oak, chestnut, cherry, juniper, ash, and acacia.
The Balsamic Vinegar will gradually take up the distinctive aromas and flavours of each wood.
The time-honoured tradition of drawing down and topping up the barrels is crucial to a process that cannot be rushed. As some of the balsamic in the battery of casks will evaporate in the extremely high summer temperatures in the attics where the barrels are laid out, every year, a small amount of refining balsamic vinegar is drawn from the larger barrel to top up the next smaller barrel in the series.
Depending on the results achieved, the Balsamic Vinegar end product is classified into one of three categories: Gold (oro), Silver (argento), and Orange (aragosta).
The logo or seal on each bottle of Traditional Balsamic Vinegar of Reggio Emilia PDP will therefore be either Gold, Silver or Orange to indicate the special qualities obtained during a maturation period of never less than 12 years.
Established by the Consortium of Producers of Traditional Balsamic Vinegar of Reggio Emilia on its founding in 1986, these specifications are a guarantee of transparency for consumers.
In 2000, the European Community, acknowledging Traditional Balsamic Vinegar of Reggio Emilia as a Protected Designation of Origin product, issued the following provisions governing production:
- All producers must be certified by an independent, EC-recognized Certification Body and authorized by the Italian Ministry for Agriculture, Food and Forestries. The Certification Body assesses all production phases and issues an approval certificate only after having ascertained the full compliance with all requirements;
- All products must comply with the density and acidity requirements, which are certified by ISO/IEC 17025-accredited laboratories. Certificates are then sent to the Certification Authority for confirmation of compliance;
- The Certification Body carries out organoleptic assessments of the suitability and quality of the products to be bottled. The assessment committee is made up of five expert tasters. Numerical scores are given by each assessor on a re-established set of quality components;
- Approved products must be bottled in the Province of Reggio Emilia and placed in the prescribed containers whose size and capacity are laid down in the regulations governing production;
- Bottling must take place in the presence of the Certification Body, which oversees the bottling, corking and sealing of the bottles with sealing wax. Each bottled product is progressively numbered to ensure traceability and the appropriate coloured label attached. Only then is the production batch returned to the producer for marketing.
Another very well-known denomination of balsamic vinegar is Balsamic Vinegar of Modena PGI (Protected Geographical Indication).
There exists a wide variety – and equally wide price range – of Balsamic Vinegars of Modena on sale. In fact, care should be taken to read the label on each product. The important things to remember is that the word “aging” may not appear on the label, for the simple reason that aging cannot be proved. The only description allowed is the word “Aged” to define certified products that have been kept for at least 3 years in casks.
This is an extremely important detail.
Balsamic Vinegar of Modena PGI is made from two ingredients: cooked must and wine vinegar.
Once blended, these two ingredients are aged in barrels for more than three years, depending on the end product desired.
Balsamic Vinegar of Modena always has an acidity of 6%.
The final denominated Borgo del Balsamico product range is our Condiments, or Dressings.
Produced with a blend of must and wine vinegar, and aged in oak casks for several years, Condiments have an acidity of less than 6%.
Our Condiment range includes white dressings, made by adding the juice of fruit as well as grapes.
Like Balsamic Vinegars, Condiments can also be aged for a range of periods. As a result, their organoleptic characteristics will differ, as will the way they are best used in the kitchen.
a traditional cooper, or barrel-maker
a small cask
a traditional cooper, or barrel-maker
a small cask