One of things we have always admired are those people that do things with true passion. We describe it as the difference between simply doing something, and doing something exceptionally well. It is the attention to detail in every aspect.
While traveling through Italy we found ourselves in the province of Modena. Located in the Emilia-Romagna Region in the north, it is best know as the storied home of Ferrari, Maserati, and Lamborghini. Aside from these truly exceptional auto makers, this region is also known for Balsamic Vinegar production. Steeped in tradition dating back to the 11th century there is absolutely no substitute for the black gold they produce there. In the modern day tradition of wanting to duplicate, and mass produce what traditionally takes the one thing that can not be altered, time, we lose the passion. This can be truly illustrated in the ancient art of making real balsamic.
Acetaia di Giorgio is a traditional balsamic vinegar producer in Modena. Touring through the barrel aging rooms we were told how the production is a combination of family tradition and patience. In addition to time in barrels, there is one single ingredient; white grape must. The process begins with the crushing of harvested Trebbiano and Lambrusco grapes. The skins, seeds and stems all remain together that make up the must. This is then cooked to reduce the liquid and raise the sugars. At a predetermined glucose level, the producer will then rest the must eventually removing the solids once the desired fermentation is complete.
Next step is the patience. The aging process is involved and long. Beginning with a rack of 5 barrels ranging in size from 50L to 15L each is initially filled to capacity. The charge is then left to age. As the liquid concentrates over time it begins to develop its color and flavor. Similar to Solera aging of spirits, each preceding barrel fills the smaller one. The largest barrel is then topped off with the current year’s production. All in all it takes a minimum of 15 years to bottle from the smallest barrel to be considered True Balsamic Vinegar. Once used as a daughters dowry for marriage the tradition of this process dates back to the Romans.
The warm late summer sun made the peaceful garden area of Acetaia di Giorgio a truly relaxing stage for a private tasting of the estate’s True Balsamic Vinegars. Sampled on their own as well as with bread, cheese and even ice cream, the flavors were complex and intoxicating. The experience left us appreciative of the passion they have for keeping the tradition of production. As hard as modern day production has tried, no one has been truly able to capture the flavor, aroma, and silky black texture of True Balsamic.
Carrying on this tradition does take commitment and a passion for the process. On the day we visited, they had recently acquired barrels dating back to the 15th century from another producer in Modena. The family gave up the barrels as the next generation had no interest in continuing the tradition.
We encourage you to seek passion, find the exceptional, and experience the best of the best.