On a recent food scouting trip to Italy, I got to visit Compagnia del Montale, producers of our aged balsamic vinegars and two-time winners of the Spilamberto Prize for best balsamic in the world.
We’ve discussed how balsamic vinegars are made elsewhere. All traditional balsamics are made from cooked grape must, but there’s actually another, very important ingredient: wood.
Just like you’ve probably heard sommeliers and foodies discussing the “oaked” characteristics of wine, the type of wood you age balsamic vinegar in imparts different flavors to the finished product.
Producers can use whatever wood they want, and as many different aging barrels as they want.
So here’s CdM’s award winning recipe (pencils ready?):
Six Barrel Set
Cherry -> Mulberry -> Ash -> Acacia -> Chestnut -> Oak
I’ll let Enrico explain why:
Oh…and you’ve got to pick just the right grapes, cook them just the right way, and treat them with love, respect and incredible care over the course of 12-25 years. Easy, right?
Want to know more? Here’s a description of the whole process straight from Enrico:
Guide to Compagnia del Montale Vinegars