The king of the Modenese dressing is certainly the traditional Balsamic Vinegar of Modena, sometimes defined as the black gold of the town. It is a product of absolute excellence, thanks to its inimitable flavour and to the decades required to make it.
The first information dates back to at least 1046 when Emperor Henry III passed through Modena. In 1508 we know that it was produced in the Estense court in Ferrara, as a gift to Royalty. The first time the word ‘balsamic’ was used was in 1747, in the archive of the grape harvest of the secret ducal cellar. In the second half of the XIX century, the lawyer and politician Francesco Aggazzotti from Formigine (he actually was a winegrower and entrepreneur) codified the techniques for the production. From then, the balsamic vinegar of Modena would conquer the whole world with its special sweet-and-sour taste. It is quite frequently seen on the tables of restaurants all over the world.
The balsamic vinegar of Modena has the IGP seal of quality, it is aged a minimum 2 months and after 3 years in a barrel can be named "invecchiato". On the contrary, the traditional balsamic vinegar of Modena (ABTM in Italian) is sold only in special little round bottles and it is the most valuable one. It is obtained – according to the definition of the guild which protects it – from cooked grape juice before fermentation, aged with a slow acetification derived from natural fermentation and by a progressive concentration over extremely long ageing, in a series of small barrels of different woods, without any addition of aromatic substances.
Of a dark, strong and shining brown colour, it shows its density in a correct and flowing syrupiness. It has a characteristic and complex fragrance, of a strong but pleasant and harmonic acidity. A traditional and inimitable taste, equilibrate sweet and sour, it is generously full, tasty with velvety nuances, in accordance with its olfactory characteristics.
It is produced as “affinato” after 12 years of maturation, and as “extravecchio” after 25 years. The age and the quality of the woods (sessile oak, chestnut, mulberry, juniper) contribute to determining the taste. Every year it is poured from a bigger barrel to a smaller one. Considering its particular taste and its value, only a few drops are sufficient.
It is wonderful to flavour salads, fried food, parmesan cheese, risottos, shrimp or strawberries (it is even perfect to be tasted on its own, on a spoon, like a panacea!).
Source: La Guida Di Modena
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