Aceto balsamico tradizionale di Reggio Emilia
- colour: dark brown, limpid, bright;
- consistency: like a runny syrup;
- aroma: penetrating and persistent; fragrant, with pleasant acidity or characteristic bouquet due in particular to the wood used for the barrels;
- flavour: sweet and sour and well balanced, with an appreciable acidity and aroma in keeping with its characteristic bouquet;
- total acidity: 5o or more (expressed in grams of acetic acid per 100 g of product);
- density at 20o C: 1.200 or more
The product is made from grape must. Bottling, in which the product is put in glass containers in the shape of an inverted tulip, takes place in the province of Reggio Emilia.
Balsamic vinegar has since time immemorial been a speciality of the Reggio area, the latter jealously maintaining the characteristics and peculiarities of the product.
The first incontrovertible documentary evidence of the existence of Aceto Balsamico Tradizionale di Reggio Emilia is to be found in the poem Vita Mathildis, which was penned by a Benedictine monk named Donizone at the convent of Sant' Apollonio di Canossa between 1112 and 1115.
Leaving aside numerous historical references the most authoritative reference (in literary terms) to Aceto Balsamico Tradizionale di Reggio Emilia comes from no less a figure than Ludovico Ariosto, the Italian language's greatest secular poet, who in 1518 addressed to his cousin Annibale Malagussi satire No III, in which there is an important reference to this special vinegar produced in the Reggio area.
Grapes intended for the production of Aceto Balsamico Tradizionale di Reggio Emilia have to produce must with a saccharometer reading of 15o or more, and the maximum production, in the case of viticulture-only holdings, must not exceed 160 quintals per hectare, with a maximum yield in terms of must of 70 %.
After the reduction in volume brought about by cooking, the minimum sugar content of the cooked must may not have a saccharometer reading of less than 30o.
The use of musts with fermentation arrested and/or containing additives or substances is prohibited.
The cooked must then undergoes sugar and acetic fermentation in traditional vinegar production rooms using traditional methods which provide the necessary ventilation and a natural range of temperatures.
At least 12 years are needed for the optimum maturation, ageing and after care of Aceto Balsamico Tradizionale di Reggio Emilia. As part of the process cooked must is decanted several times into numbered and marked vats of different sizes made of wood that is typical of the Region: chestnut, oak, mulberry, juniper, cherry, ash and locust tree.
When the product satisfies the minimum requirements set out in the rules of production and has passed a series of analytical and organoleptic tests, it is put in special 10-25 cl glass bottles shaped like an inverted tulip.
Ageing, aftercare and bottling must all be carried out in the province of Reggio Emilia.
Aceto Balsamico Tradizionale di Reggio Emilia is the product of a slow process of transformation of a unique raw material: must produced from grapes of vine varieties traditionally grown in the province of Reggio Emilia and cooked using a direct source of heat.
Maturation is a lengthy process, lasting 12 years at least, and does not involve the use of any substance other than cooked must, or any physical or chemical process.
Aceto Balsamico Tradizionale di Reggio Emilia is one of the most important typical and traditional foodstuffs of the Reggio area; its characteristics and the fact that production is fairly limited, have helped to forge the economic success and reputation of the product at home and abroad.
The close links between the product and the local conditions in terms of soil and climate are confirmed and underpinned by the ban on accelerated and/or artificial ageing techniques, including those based on induced changes in temperature, humidity and ventilation in the vinegar production rooms.
The fact that the raw material comes solely from Reggio Emilia vineyards that produce quality wines psr precludes the possibility of the characteristics of Aceto Balsamico Tradizionale di Reggio Emilia being reproduced anywhere else than in that area.