Traditional Balsamic Vinegar of Modena DOP
At first glance they seem the same, but once the bottles are opened and the products tasted, the peculiar characteristics are noticed both at an olfactory and gustatory level.
We are talking about Traditional Balsamic Vinegar of Modena PDO and Balsamic Vinegar of Modena PGI
Both coming from the same territory of Modena and Reggio Emilia, the two products differ in terms of production methods and times.
Traditional Balsamic Vinegar of Modena PDO is a precious example of high craftsmanship and a symbol of Made in Italy .
It is produced in limited quantities after years of aging (at least 12 years for the Affinato and 25 for the Extravecchio) and care. The average annual production is in fact only 12 thousand liters, which makes it one of the most exclusive products in the food sector, and its production method has its roots in the history of today’s provinces of Reggio Emilia and Modena.
Since the times of Ancient Rome, there are evidences of a particular vinegar , developed in the territory of Modena and Reggio, famous for the large production of grapes obtained from the vine “Vitis Labrusca”. The must of this grape was often concentrated by cooking, obtaining compounds that could be used as sweeteners instead of honey or made to sour and used as an additive for wines and vinegars.
The first written document that mentions a particular vinegar, suitable to be given even to a king, dates back to the 12th century and is the work of the monk Donizone who wrote the “Vita Mathildis”.
In this writing, the monk recalls that Henry II of Franconia, king of Germany, on his way down to Rome, sent to Matilde’s father the request to have ” that vinegar that had been praised to him and that he had heard being made there very perfect “.
Obviously this request was granted, to the great admiration of the king and future emperor of the Holy Roman Empire.
Over the centuries, the production of this vinegar is linked to the history of the Este family.
The home production of vinegar, in fact, was the vocation of the Modenes people and there were different recipes and production methods that were used. In the richest and most aristocratic families, the use of only cooked must prevailed to produce the precious black liquid. When the Corte degli Estensi moved to Modena, it became infected by this custom, so much so that bottles of special vinegar traveled from Modena to all European courts and the famous Spanish artist Diego Velazquez was also honored.
The first written testimony bearing the words ” Aceto Balsamico ” is the “Register of harvests and sales of wines on behalf of the two Secret Cellars of the Ducal Palace of Modena” of 1747, which records the quantity of product transferred to the ducal vinegar factory for the annual supplement. The adjective ” balsamic ” was not accidental: it was believed that this product had medicinal characteristics, capable of producing well-being and relieving pain.
In modern times this particular production is gaining more and more popularity.
By now not only the noble families, but also the bourgeois ones in continuous ascent controlled the trafficking of local products, obviously including balsamic vinegar, which met more and more interest, not only in Italy, but also abroad . In fact, the nineteenth-century universal exhibitions are an important showcase for making the product known more and more, which is met with great favor everywhere.
The ‘900 is then the century of legislative recognitions: in 1933 the “centuries-old and characteristic industry” that had been established in Modena was recognized, and in 1965 the rules for the repression of fraud in the preparation and marketing of wines, musts, and vinegars were defined, with a Specification which enshrines the characteristics of Balsamic Vinegar of Modena.
In 1993 the Balsamic Vinegar of Modena Consortium was born, on the initiative of local producers, whose mission is to protect and safeguard the production of this unique product in the world.
The consortium’s initiatives lead to a series of recognitions at European level, arriving in 2000 to obtain European protection as Traditional Balsamic Vinegar of Modena PDO (Protected Designation of Origin) , and in 2009 the Italian Ministry entrusted the protection of the product to Consortium for the Protection of Traditional Balsamic Vinegar of Modena.
Traditional Balsamic Vinegar of Modena derives from a single ingredient: cooked must , obtained by cooking the juice of grapes harvested exclusively in the province of Modena.
A single ingredient, which is cured from year to year with great passion and experience, slowly maturing and reaching the organoleptic complexity that makes “the black gold of Modena” a truly inimitable product.
After the harvest, usually manual, and the long cooking, up to 15 hours, the cooked must is placed in the so-called “Botte Madre” where, in contact with the product of the previous years, the fermentation and acetification process will begin.
The next phase takes place in the battery of barrels , in which the maturation and fermentation of the product take place. Batteries consist of barrels of different sizes, from the smallest to the largest. Every year, to compensate for evaporation and withdrawals, we proceed to the practice of decanting: the first barrel, the smallest, is leveled again, with the quantity of product required taken from the second barrel, a little larger. It then continues with the second barrel, which receives the product from the third and so on until you reach the largest barrel, the level of which is restored by the “bump” taken from the “Mother barrel”.
This operation, done with love, patience and meticulousness and the combination of barrels of different woods are the secret to obtain the unique characteristics of the DOP product .
After 12 years of operation of a battery, a first part of the finished product can begin to be extracted from the smallest barrel, in a quantity proportional to the size of the battery itself.
This product aged 12 years takes the name of “Affinato” , while after 25 years of activity it will finally be possible to extract the “Extravecchio” .
Fraud, imitations and counterfeits: like most of the Made in Italy products, even the Traditional Balsamic Vinegar of Modena has had to deal with these recurring problems.
One of the solutions put into practice by the Modena Chamber of Commerce in 1987 was to entrust designer Giorgetto Giugiaro with the design of a distinctive and recognizable bottle shape. Giugiaro therefore designed a very special 100 ml bottle : this is the only bottle authorized by the consortium, the only one used by all producers.
When closed with the appropriate numbered seal it guarantees the authenticity and quality of the product. Only if you have a bottle of Giugiaro in your hands can you be sure you have an authentic Balsamic Vinegar of Modena PDO