Venerdì, 19 Ottobre 2018

Centuries-old balsamic vinegar passes taste test


(By Christopher Livesay)
Modena, July 26 - A 273-year-old phial of Modena's
prized balsamic vinegar has been uncovered in the northern
Italian city and experts say it's delicious.
The viscous, gourmet grape reduction was found two years
ago along with a handwritten note inside an 18th-century chest
inherited by a Modenese family.
The note read: "Vinegar taken from a bottle of the Gregori
family of Modena in 1740. Today, February 17, 1943, the vinegar
is 203 years' old. Signed: Giulio Jacoli fu Cesare".
After extensive chemical tests, the ampule was approved for
an official taste by the Consorteria dell'Aceto Balsamico
Tradizionale (Traditional Balsamic Vinegar Consortium) to judge
its texture, flavor and appearance.
The consortium gave it 307 points, just 10.8 points below
the balsamic vinegar that won this year's top prize at the Palio
di San Giovanni, the industry's top competition.
Tasters said they were stunned by its high quality given
nearly 300 years of unaccounted-for conservation records.
True balsamic vinegar must be aged for a minimum of 12
years in a series of successively smaller barrels.
"To make balsamic vinegar, you need a line of five to seven
barrels of diminishing size, or what we call a battery. They
have different capacities and are made of different woods," says
Luca Gozzoli, grand master of the Modena consortium and
agriculture councilor for the province.
The first and largest barrel is usually made of hard wood,
like chestnut.
As they get smaller, the woods also get softer, like cherry
and gelsum.
The different woods add different aromas and overtones.
The smallest barrel at the end of the line usually has a
capacity of 10 to 25 liters.
Each spring, one 10th of the last barrel - or one to 2.5
liters - is withdrawn for consumption throughout the year.
If any more is taken, the delicate ferment inside will not
withstand the next steps required to have a new batch of
balsamic vinegar the following year.
A new batch is created by refilling the barrels all the way
down the line.
Contents from the second-smallest barrel are used to refill
the smallest.
Contents of the third-smallest is used to refill the
second, and so on and so forth, until the newest cooked grape
must, which has wintered in the basement, is used to refill the
largest barrel in the line up.
Sitting with a kerchief-covered hole, the stuff evaporates
and ferments quickly in hot summer months, and chills and
settles its sediments during the winter.
Once a good balsamic vinegar gets going in one's own
barrels, it can last for generations to come, as additional
aging only helps the flavor.
"The duration is infinite, if you take care of the
reduction and its bacteria. There are barrels as old as 300 or
400 years old," says Gozzoli.
The process of creating high-quality balsamic dates back to
the Middle Ages when locals in Modena and neighboring Reggio
Emilia found a way to transform the sour, acidic liquid into an
aromatic, mild, slightly sweet condiment as thick as syrup and
as complex as fine wine.
Traditional balsamic vinegar is a breed apart from other
vinegars, whose bite would cause serious facial contortions were
it deployed in a similar way: paired with pork or Parmesan,
sprinkled on rice dishes, dabbed on strawberries, trickled on
creamy desserts or swallowed straight.
"My favorite way to have balsamic vinegar is in a spoon,"
Maurizio Torreggiani, President of Modena's Chamber of Commerce,
told ANSA.
Such a declaration would cause wincing even with the
balsamic vinegar normally found on grocery shelves, and commonly
used to dress salad.
Grocery store balsamic vinegar - usually with an officious
"I.G.P." on its label - contains wine vinegar and, often,
uncooked grape must, thickening agents, caramel coloring or
Despite the low-tech nature of traditional production, no
one has figured out how to industrialize it.
"One generation makes balsamic vinegar for the next," says
Cristina Quartieri, director of the balsamic vinegar museum
Museo del Balsamico Tradizionale Spilamberto.
Bottles of balsamic aged for 25 years or more can go for
hundreds of euros.
There has been no word on selling the recently discovered
18th-century ampule.

© Riproduzione riservata

* Campi obbligatori

Immagine non superiore a 5Mb (Formati permessi: JPG, JPEG, PNG)
Video non superiore a 10Mb (Formati permessi: MP4, MOV, M4V)


Accedi con il tuo account Facebook

Login con

Login con Facebook
  • Seguici su