Aceto Balsamico Tradizionale di Reggio Emilia PDO is balsamic vinegar obtained through fermenting and refining cooked grape must, originating exclusively from the Province of Reggio Emilia. The adjective “traditional” is given to its centuries-old history. It is produced in the following typologies: Bollino Aragosta (Red Lobster Seal), Bollino Argento (Silver Seal) and Bollino Oro (Gold Seal).
The production area of Aceto Balsamico Tradizionale di Reggio Emilia PDO is within the territory of the Province of Reggio Emilia, in the Emilia Romagna region.
Immediately after pressing the must is simmered for several hours in order to concentrate the sugar level to a max. of 40 Brix grades. With the first heat, the obtained product undergoes sugar fermentation, turning the sugars into alcohol, and acetic oxidation, promoted by the addition of vinegar bacteria colonies when 7/9 degrees of alcohol has been obtained; during this stage the alcohol is transformed into acetic acid. When 3/4 degrees of acidity is reached, the product is put into a series of different-sized wooden barrels, the batteria, which are usually placed in well-ventilated attics that are affected by temperature changes. During the summer, the product concentrates due to the partial evaporation of the water content, leading to a drop in the level of the product in the barrels. In winter, the product is transferred in order to restore the optimal level in the barrel. The last barrel is topped up by drawing from the “Abbess” (150/220 litre barrels), which is filled with the same product used to fill the batteria at the beginning of the production process. In turn, the “Abbess” will be topped up with the must obtained throughout the year. The refinement period is never less than 12 years, and if the product is refined for more than 25 years, it can boast the indication “extra vecchio” (old).
Appearance and Flavour
Aceto Balsamico Tradizionale di Reggio Emilia PDO is characterised by its dark, clear and luminous colour, its penetrating and persistent fragrance and its pleasant acidity; the flavour is balanced between sweet and sour and is characteristically aromatic.
The first references to this product date back to 1046, when Henry III, Emperor of Germany, stopped in Piacenza on his way to Rome, and asked Boniface, lord of Rocca di Canossa (near Reggio Emilia), for that special vinegar that “”he had heard poured perfectly””. Over the following centuries, in the main extended areas, consortia were created to safe-keep the secret of how the product was prepared. There are numerous notarial deeds from more recent periods which include references to barrels of the vinegar being left to people in wills or included in the dowry lists of noblewomen. The current trend among enthusiasts is to prepare a “batteria” on the birth of children or grandchildren, identifying them with their names.
Aceto Balsamico Tradizionale di Reggio Emilia PDO should be conserved in a well-sealed glass recipient, away from strong smelling substances. It is a unique elixir, excellent for enriching and perfecting the flavours of dishes; from the most elaborate and delicate to the more simple and ‘poor’. An excellent example is Aceto Balsamico Tradizionale di Reggio Emilia PDO being used to garnish Parmigiano Reggiano PDO and pear baked custard, an original and very traditional dish. It should never be used in cooking as the aromas and flavours will be lost.
In order to boast the Protected Designation of Origin, Aceto Balsamico Tradizionale di Reggio Emilia must successfully pass a test carried out by highly specialised master tasters. If it is not considered to be of the right level of quality, it is returned to the barrels for further refining.