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About Balsamic Vinegar of Modena

Balsamic vinegars are made from a variety of grapes that are picked while they’re still ripe. After being picked, they are immediately cooked under an open night sky and reduced down to grape must. They are then filtered and cooled and put into barrels usually containing about 30% of the must left from the previous batch from the same barrel. This ensures the incorporation of characteristics from the previous balsamic into the newest part of the batch. The barrels must be stored in a place where the air circulates well so that the aging must can breathe and rest. As time passes, the must partially evaporates, causing the density of what remains to increase. All throughout this process, the must is transferred from barrel to barrel, each of a different wood, according to the producer’s secret recipe, so that it will absorb the flavor of the wood, and become the perfectly rounded balsamic we expect.

Traditional Balsamics

In addition to minimum age requirements (see below), Traditional Balsamic

Vinegars must undergo rigorous testing and tasting by one of four Balsamic Vinegar Consortiums of Modena, in order to bear their seal of approval and DOP status. 5 judges will blind taste test each batch and grade each on 5 aspects of the balsamic for a combined score.

A Traditional Balsamic must be aged a minimum of 12 years and depending on its aging and points received from the consortium, can receive the title of either:

a) Affinato or Vecchio – Min 12 years and min. 224 points

b) Extra Vecchio – Min 25 years and min. 341 points


Commercial Balsamic Vinegars

Unlike Traditional Balsamics, Commercial Balsamic Vinegars are produced in much greater quantities. These balsamics can still be of great quality; however, there is no consortium approval and a minimal aging requirement.

D.O.P (PDO –Protected Designation of Origin)

DOP stands for Denominazione di Origine Protetta (Protected Designation of Origin).  It is the indication of quality attributed to an agricultural or food product, whose particular characteristics depend exclusively  on the area in which it is produced. 

DOP products are unique and unrivalled because they are the result of specific factors, both natural and such as oil, climate or indigenous variety, or human such as the techniques and traditions of production and processing, none of which can be duplicated in any way outside the area selected as the DOP.

DOP enjoy the security and protection against imitation throughout the whole area of the European Union.  Only 194 local products in Italy are qualified DOP (cheese, salami, fruit and vegetables, spices and olive oils)

-I.G.P (PGI – Protected Geographical Indication)

To be IGP approved, the balsamics must have a minimum acidity level 6%, which is obtained through the legally required addition of red wine vinegar and must be aged for a minimum of 60 days.   With the latest changes in the IGP requisites, any of these products packed in bottles smaller than 8.5 oz cannot be called a Balsamic Vinegar of Modena and must be called a Condiment.


Changes in Labeling Regulations for Commericial Balsamic Vinegars

Due to the nature of the aging process of balsamics, a balsamic vinegar generally has a range of ages, from its minimum time in the barrels to its oldest part from the mother batch.  In the past, producers played off this area of ambiguity with respect to age and put numbers on bottles that did not necessarily reflect the age or nature of the balsamic.  This abuse of labeling was recently put to an end by the Consortium of Modena.  Now no commercial balsamic is allowed to have any number featured in its packaging.


About Our Producers: Compagnia del Montale

The Bertoli family and their friends used to all meet at the Montale commune to a table set with food, wine and love where they would toast their friendship. It was at these dinners that their love for Modenese cuisine flourished and gave birth to a prosperous family company whose secret to success was a hearty passion for food and a small barrel of mother vinegar. Because of that passion and that little barrel, they were able to create the flavorful and unique balsamic vinegar of Compagnia del Montale. The end result from their centuries of care and love is what many today call Italian Black Gold.


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