The origin of aceto balsamico which is produced in the traditional way goes back many centuries. Its character is attributed to the grapes which grow in the Modena region under special environmental conditions and is closely linked to the art of cider making. During the production process balsamic vinegar from Modena is matured in various wooden casks for several months.
After the grapes have been pressed, but before fermentation takes place, the must is reduced by boiling it under normal ambient pressure so that only approximately 30% – 50 % (depending on the requirements for each vinegar production) remains. After a long airing period yeast germ and acetic acid result in natural and simultaneous fermentation and transformation into vinegar. This “maturation” is a vital part of the characteristic aroma of balsamic vinegar. This is followed by a further maturing process whereby the vinegar develops its typical characteristics.
During the production process various wooden casks (mostly oak, chestnut, mulberry, wild cherry and juniper) with successively smaller volume (100/75 liters to 15/10 liters) are used. The various woods lend the balsamic vinegar its unique character.
The tannin rich chestnut is responsible for its dark color, mulberry accelerates concentration, essence of resin is taken on from the juniper, wild cherry makes the taste smoother, and the oak infuses the mature vinegar with its characteristic vanilla note. The difference in the size of the casks is determined by the annual drawing and topping up process. In this process a small amount is drawn from the final cask and the missing volume is replaced by an amount from the preceding cask whose missing volume is topped up from its preceding cask. This also compensates for any evaporation which has occurred naturally over the year. This process requires great care and skill when evaluating the development of the vinegar so as to ensure its optimal development in the following years.