On 25.5. the Blogville Emilia Romagna group visited a producer of traditional Italian balsamic vinegar, Acetaia San Giacomo. When we drove on a tiny sandroad I didn’t know what to expect and where we will end up, but oh, that farm is stunning. The old stone building is breath taking and the views over green fields are spectacular. We got a round tour by the owner Andrea Bezzecchi who told us about the products and the history. I had no idea it is such a long process to make traditional balsamic vinegar – not only do you have to wait for several years for the product to be ready, but you also move the product between different barrels (battery) to get the perfect color, taste, and smell.
In order to be called traditional balsamic vinegar the producers need to take their products in front of a panel of judges, who will give a score to the product. Also red label must age for at least 12 years, silver label for at least 18 years and gold label for at least 25 years. And for it to be a traditional balsamic vinegar the product has to be produced from Trebbiano and Lambrusco grapes (small quantities of other grapes are allowed), the barrels must be made from at least 5 different types of wood (and that smell from the old barrels… you can really smell the different woods in the balsamic vinegar, it is incredible!) – AND it has to be from the right region (Modena or Reggio Emilia).
Best part is of course the tasting… heaven. I have always enjoyed balsamic vinegar in salads, but I did not know it is so popular for desserts and even meat and fish. The first product we tried was Saba which was sweet and with a syrupy taste. I thought about pancakes and ice cream and bought a bottle home, super delicious. Then I had to buy one bottle you can use on salads and with meat. Those two bottles were 18€ together (6€ for the Saba and 12€ for the other one) so with those prices and that taste I wish I could buy more – but can not fill my luggage with too much weight. Unfortunately these products are not available in Finland (yet!), but hope they will be in future. I will save a little Saba for the winter so I can try it with snow, haha.
If you are in the region, go. You get to taste good balsamic vinegar in a beautiful place. I would probably not book anything like this if I travelled myself, but then when you are there you appreciate it and also in a way wonder why you have not done anything like this before. It is good to do something more unusual sometimes, even for someone who does not care that much about cooking (I just like to eat) that visit is a nice experience.
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I am in Italy for BlogVille Emilia Romagna – for more information please visit the website.
If you ever need help reducing the weight of your balsamic acquisitions, please let me know. :)