First of all, you must know that Balsamic Vinegar of Modena is divided into Balsamic Vinegar of Modena P.G.I. (I.G.P. in Italian) and Traditional Balsamic Vinegar of Modena P.D.O. (D.O.P. in italian)
This article will explore everything there is to learn about the Traditional Balsamic Vinegar of Modena P.D.O. Want to find out more about the Balsamic Vinegar of Modena P.G.I.? Then please click this link.
Traditional Balsamic Vinegar of Modena P.D.O. (Protected Designation of Origin).
Would you like to find out how it is made? Is it a product you are curious about yet unsure of its ingredients? Do you not know how it becomes “aged”? Can you not tell the difference between imitations? This article will help you with all of the enquiries.
Balsamic Vinegar of Modena is a special vinegar – solely made of grapes, dark brown in color and its taste bittersweet. It is extracted from grape must cultivated in the province of Modena.
Its recognition and territory
Traditional Balsamic Vinegar of Modena obtained from the European Commission the Protected Designation of Origin in 2000, substituted from its previous Controlled Designation of Origin in 1983. It was recognized as an autochthonous product from Italy and more importantly, from Modena.
Because of this, it can only be produced in the province of Modena. The first traditional balsamic vinegar of Modena P.D.O. was bottled by Pier Luigi Sereni, owner of Acetaia Sereni, in 2002, sealed “0001” (see picture).
The only ingredient needed for the production of Traditional Balsamic Vinegar of Modena P.D.O. is the cooked grape must.
The fresh grape must (raw) endures a process of cooking under direct fire, the boiler being open hence creating an ambient pressure, without adding any substances, until it is reduced to 50% of its initial quantity.
The grape must initiates its fermentation process thanks to natural yeasts and bio-oxidation due to acetobacterials.
It is allowed to use bacterial colonies called “madre” which is the acidic starter initiating the acidification process.
In order to produce Traditional Balsamic Vinegar of Modena P.D.O., the cooked grape must that is needed can only be obtained from typical, registered vines, cultivated in the province of Modena.
Acetaia Sereni uses Lambrusco and Trebbiano vines.
This process as well needs to take place in Modena. The productive process of Acetaia Sereni takes place in the hills of Modena, 350m in altitude.
Once the fermentation has taken place, the grape must is placed into the “Batteria” for the aging. A “Batteria” consists of various wood barrels (the most common ones are oak, chestnut, juniper, cherry, mulberry) positioned in a decreasing order. A set of barrels is usually composed of 5, 7 or 10 barrels.
The sets of barrels (Batteria) are arranged in places with particular climatic characteristics (very warm in summer and very cold in winter) – in fact, they are often stored like treasures in attics of family homes in Modena.
Each year, in winter, the ‘rincalzo’ takes place, which consists of the wise producer filling the decreasing amount of product lost into the smallest barrel, with the product of the following bigger one. The decreasing product of the second barrel will be replaced by product of the next bigger one and so forth until the biggest barrel that will be filled with the cooked, fermented grape must.
In the smallest barrel the finest balsamic vinegar can be found, ready for its bottling process, enriched through the scents of different wooden barrels.
The aging takes at least 12 years for the Traditional Balsamic Vinegar of Modena P.D.O. and at least 25 years for the Traditional Balsamic Vinegar of Modena P.D.O. “Extra Old”.
Once it has reached the maturity process, the product cannot be called Traditional Balsamic Vinegar of Modena D.O.P straight away as it needs the approval of the Consorzio Tutela Traditional Balsamic Vinegar of Modena.
Technical characteristics, packaging and bottling
The total acidity found in the product cannot be less than 4.5% (expressed in acetic acid grams per 100g of product). The density cannot be less than 1,24.
Once the production process has taken place, the product is taken unpacked to Modena into the Consortium site, where the product will be analyzed, tasted and given its vote. In fact, a proper sensory tasting takes place. The qualified tasters will need to assess whether the product has reached the necessary standard of quality depending on the vote received.
In regards to, Traditional Balsamic Vinegar of Modena D.O.P. is required to be over 229 points. Also, the Traditional Balsamic Vinegar of Modena D.O.P “Extravecchio” (translating to extra old) equally needs to reach at least 255 points.
Once it is qualified, the product is bottled directly by the Consortium, into the special bottle designed by the famous car designer Giugiaro being an exclusive spherical shape with a rectangular base. Therefore, the bottle remains the same for every producer with a 100 ml capacity signed and numbered by the Consortium with a seal. Every other products bottled with a different shape or other capacity cannot be Traditional Balsamic Vinegar of Modena P.D.O.
Every producer, also if they use the same bottle, ultimately obtain a diverse and unique product, which derives from its right family recipe and own traditions bound to its territory and family’s taste.
The Family Sereni products all derive from Grandmother Santina’s ancient recipe, in which she tried to find the perfect balance between the right acidity and refined sweetness. These should both never be excessive and always a pleasure to enjoy guaranteeing a roundly, velvet and harmonic taste.
Thanks to its bittersweet taste and scent – intensive, persistent and aromatic, it can be paired with a few things including fresh or cured cheeses, fresh fruit (especially strawberries!), neutrally flavored ice creams or in easier manners: pure on a ceramic spoon, in order to savor all the intensity and taste of the precious Balsamic Vinegar. Otherwise, it also serves as an excellent digestive after a meal.
These are our most recommended pairings however we are convinced that anyone can add Traditional Balsamic Vinegar of Modena D.O.P. to their favorite dish so let us know how you have used it!
In our Agriturismo’s kitchen, you are able to taste a various range of traditional Emilian dishes, dressed most appropriately with Balsamic Vinegar of Modena such as Tortelloni with spinach and ricotta, beef filet, Parmesan risotto, cheese, desserts and creative starters.
Cream with Balsamic Vinegar IGP, the glazes and other similar products are NOT part of Traditional Balsamic Vinegar of Modena D.O.P. and are not obtained through the same process. In fact, these are condiments that contain traces of Balsamic Vinegar of Modena IGP.
If you want to discover more about balsamic vinegar and taste various types and ages, we invite you to our farm for a guided tour!