Balsamic Vinegar Olive Oil of Modena (or Balsamic Vinegar Oleo of Modena) is an exceptional vinegar oil that dates back to ancient Roman times. The item is not made from wine, as some Italian vinegars do, but rather than using it, it's made from the cooked grape juice.
This is known as the "has-to". There are many different types of Balsamic Vinegar Oils. Sometimes they make false claims about their age, source, and quality.
This confusion has caused some misinformation and created some confusion among consumers and traders. This article will explain the production process and the various types of Balsamic Vinegar.
Two distinct recipes developed in history and gave rise to the two current, regulated merchandise: Balsamic Vinegar of Modena IGP, (Protected Designation of Origin), and Traditional Balsamic Vinegar of Modena OOP (Protected Designation of Origin).
These two recipes are the only ones that have been approved by the Italian authorities, and the European Union.
Modena DOP Traditional Balsamic Vinegar
What is Traditional Balsamic Vinegar Oil Modena?
Modena Traditional Balsamic Vinegar Oil (or Modena Traditional Balsamic Vinegar Oil) is a special vinegar that is made by pressing the grape juices. The must is then cooked for hours over an open fire until it becomes a brown, syrupy liquid. It has a great grape smell and is called cooked should. The cooked should is then aged for at least 12 year in wooden barrels following the Solera System.
These barrels are made with a premium mixture of woods like cherry, chestnut and oak. Each barrel has a different capacity (the first one retains approximately 40 gallons, while the second holds about 2 Gallons). There will be 5-7 to 9 barrels in a collection. This is the "batteria" collection.
Solera is also known as the "topping up" system. It involves the constant (everyyear) topping up the cooked must into a smaller barrel. Each year, the newest cooked grape must is mixed with the one that was in the barrel the previous year.
It is crucial to remember that there is always a mix between the previous harvest and the current one. This is why the Italian legislator prohibits any aging claims on labels. A simple organoleptic test is all that is required to determine if the product has an aging claim. The only way to know a person's exact age is through a Carbon 13 test.
The barrels used in the ageing of Traditional Balsamic Vinegar Oil can be kept in attics. Temperature and seasons will determine the rate of fermentation. The process of fermentation takes longer in the winter. However, when it is warm and humid the fermentation speed increases and results in evaporation of the grapes. Each barrel absorbs a small amount of its material, which gives rise to the wood's unique aroma.
After at least 12 years, the vinegar becomes a complex, pleasant, thick, rich, and complex. The manufacturer can submit their product to a panel of Master Judges in the Consortium of Producers of Traditional Balsamic Vinegar of Modena.
This panel of master palaters does not perform an organoleptic analysis on color, texture, taste, flavor, or aroma. If the product is scored higher than 250 points, the manufacturer has the option to send the product to Consortium. Consortium actually fills the bottle with all its associates.
A product can only ever be bottled at 100ml bottles that are unique by law. This particular jar can be used by all producers. This is an important step for ensuring the item's quality.
Two distinct types of Traditional Balsamic Vinegar from Modena are available: The Red Seal (one that has been aged for a minimum 12 years) or the Gold Seal (one which has been aged for a minimum 25 years). The Traditional Balsamic Vinegar of Modena is a highly expensive vinegar. It can be purchased for as low as $100 for 100ml (3oz).
The high cost of barrels is what explains the price. Balsamic Vinegar Oil barrels that are older are more expensive than wine barrels. They are made of thicker wood because they must sustain the acidity.
A set of empty containers (batterias) can be priced at around 8-10 thousand US dollars. The cost of the raw materials is also high as one loses about 30 percent of what they used in the cooking process. It also explains why it takes so long to sell the product. A minimum of 12 years is required to make about 1 gallon per year of vinegar.
Because they couldn't really sell such a costly and scarcely available solution to their customers, Modena's small stores (Fini & Giusti) began the practice of mixing Traditional Balsamic Vinegar, Modena, with strong, aged, red wines vinegar.
Their merchandise is thinner (easier use) and cheaper (wine vinegar isn't expensive), but it still has the same variety of organoleptic properties as traditional (so, somehow, rancid, dense, and more complicated than regular vinegar).
This was the origin of what is now very popular and is sold in over 60 Nations.
Balsamic Vinegar Modena P.G.I.
This item is created by the blending and subsequent fermentation of either concentrated or cooked must with wine vinegar. The law allows the addition of less than 2 percent caramel color. It is a natural product, and is used for uniformity and maintenance of a consistent color.
The vacuum process that results in concentrated grape must has a low flavor profile and a sweet, fruity taste. This is done at a lower temperature. The cooked grape should be placed under direct fire to burn sugars. It creates a rich flavor profile and full body, at a much higher price than Traditional.
Even though many people claim that they do not use caramel coloring, it is crucial to remember that ALL producers do. This is easy to see because the color is the same every year, regardless if there are obvious differences between harvests.
The concentrated, or cooked must, is a combination between the two. It is mixed with wine vinigar to form a mass that can then be fermented and age. The final product's quality will depend on the quality and quantity of the need.
It is possible to measure the quality and amount of these ingredients using a simple lab analysis. This measures the density, dried extractions, and dried extracted with no sugars.
The quality of final product is more dependent on the mixture of ingredients than simply the ageing of them. Due to this blending and because of the various quality levels from each harvest, ageing claims cannot always be proved. Italian authorities have banned ageing labels.
A Balsamic Vinegar of Modena maker's goal is to deliver consistent quality (taste/aroma, and flavor profile) to their customers. Because each grape harvest is different, the vinegar oil manufacturer must mix and age different grape varieties for different amounts to get this consistency in Balsamic Vinegar Modena PGI.
Two factors are key to determining the quality of Balsamic Vinegar Modena PGI. They are Quality of Ingredients (QI) and Ageing. The quality of the final product is determined by the differences in the quality and amount of concentration within the same category.