The recent history of balsamic vinegar

Denomination of balsamic vinegar

The typical Modena's vinegar, that had its own denomination of origin until few years ago, was called simply “balsamic vinegar”; this adjective is found in documents of the first half of the eighteenth century, proclaimed its peculiarities, considered miraculous by the pharmacopoeia and the cosmetics of the time. According to some archival sheets and advertising of the last century, only the vinegar that had turned 50 years of age could be called balsamic; all historical sources claim that only long aging, sometimes centuries of far more, gave the right to the title of Modena's balsamic vinegar.

It's easy to see that this rarity could be produced only in small quantities, requiring care and attention possible only in family-run places, with aging times and costs difficult to reconcile with the laws of the market.

Spilamberto's coterie and consortia (Modena)

The organoleptic characteristics of the product were described for the first time in the Spilamberto's coterie by an experts' committee. In 1930's born the Spilamberto's coterie of natural balsamic vinegar, an association that has fought for passion in the defense of a tradition. So attics were filled of batteries, not only in Modena's and Reggio Emilia's provinces, the Chamber of Commerce obtained by the ministry of agriculture a law for the protection of the product. In this law has been solved the vexed question about balsamic vinegar of Reggio Emilia, the ducal province which has been recognized a brand name. The production rules of traditional balsamic vinegar Of Modena and of Reggio Emilia are almost identical, here the main points:

  • the juice must come from grapes traditionally grown in the two provinces;
  • cooking of the must have to be a high heat and open vessel;
  • the balsamic vinegar must be aged in barrels batteries of different capacities and different types of wood for 12 years, through annual transfers;
  • the “acetaia” must be well ventilated and must be located in a place that is directly affected by the seasonal variations in temperature and climate. Surveillance to law enforcement has been entrusted to consortia of producers.

In Reggio Emilia

marchio dell'aceto balsamico di Reggio Emilia e di Montericco

Il marchio del consorzio ABT di Reggio Emilia e il sigillo dell'acetaia di Montericco.

The Modena's Consortium sells only two types of traditional balsamic vinegar, Lobster and Gold Stamp, packaged in a glass bottle of 100 cc with a guarantee band. The Reggio Emilia's Consortium sells three different types of traditional balsamic vinegar: Lobster and Silver Stamp aged 12 to 24 years and Gold Stamp aged at least 25 years, packaged in glass bottles of 100 cc with a guarantee seal. The authenticity of these consumer products is approved by organoleptic examination by a committee of taste.