THE BLACK GOLD OF MODENA

You have probably heard of balsamic vinegar at some point in your life and you even might use it on a daily basis, but you actually never knew what it’s made of? Is it made of wine? Grapes? White grapes? Red ones? Well, now it’s time to find it all out 🙂

Just a five-minute drive from Quattro Madonne caseificio in Lesignana, there’s one of the oldest existing producers of balsamic vinegar in Modena surroundings.

Founded in 1605 and still run by the family, Acetaia Giuseppe Giusti is now considered to be the oldest Balsamic Vinegar company in the world. During its history, Giusti has received various awards for the quality of its products, earning the recognition as the most prestigious and awarded balsamic vinegar producer while one of the Giuseppes in the Giusti family was nominated as Official Supplier of the Royal House of Savoia, King of Italy in 1929.

The first balsamic vinegar boutique in Modena, opened in the early 1600’s, became the Premiata Salumeria Giusti in the early 1900’s. The same place still remains praised point of reference for food lovers and local gourmet excellencies.

In the 1990 Acetaia Giusti moved from the attics of the Delicatessen into a farmhouse located in the Modena countryside, opening its doors to food lovers from all over the world.

On the 1st of October in 2018 the owners opened a museum where the staff guides free tours of the cellars and gives an interesting overview on the history of the balsamic vinegar making.

Making of the balsamic vinegar has always been a part of family’s life. If you had some grapes you would make wine and/or balsamic vinegar. Actually, back in the days the vinegar was considered to be cure for everything. Hence the name balsamic, coming from the word balm.

The balsamic vinegar would be often used in everyday use and even as a gift or dowry. The long ageing method, the small amounts obtained through a lengthy reduction process, and the traditional procedures made the vinegar cellar extremely important. This is why it was off limits for everyone except family members and the master vinegar maker who had learnt the trade secrets from an early age and was an important member of the family.

The two traditional balsamic vinegars are made the same way from reduced grape must aged for several years in a series of wooden barrels, and are produced exclusively in either the province of Modena or Reggio Emilia (Aceto Balsamico Tradizionale di Modena DOP, Aceto Balsamico Tradizionale di Reggio Emilia DOP). The names of these two vinegars are protected by the European Union’s Protected Designation of Origin, while the usually less expensive Balsamic Vinegar of Modena (Aceto Balsamico di Modena IGP) is made from grape must blended with wine vinegar, and produced exclusively in either Modena or Reggio Emilia, with a Protected Geographical Indication status.

The making of the balsamic vinegar starts in the late summer – early autumn, with picking the grapes with just the right concentration of sugars and acidity and those are usually white Trebbiano grapes or red Lambrusco.

The grape is squished and the juice or must is cooked (mosto cotto) at a temperature of 95°C until the sugars are caramelised and the must gains nice dark brown color.

The cooked must then is transferred to the tanks until spring for which time the process of fermentation is evolving. In the spring, when the temperature in the nature starts to rise, fermented grape juice is transferred into several barrels made of different woods (mulberry, chestnut, cherry, juniper and oak).

Each of the barrels is of different volume, ranging from 50 to 15 liters.

All of the barrels are filled on the same day and left to age until the autumn. During this period, the fermented juice is reduced by evaporation. This is when the new process of refiling starts. The fifth barrel gets filled with the must from the fourth and so on, until the first and biggest barrel is filled with the new cooked and fermented must.

The process is repeated every year in the same way, for at least 12 years when finally the small amount of one liter from the smallest barrel is extracted to fill just a few specific tulip shaped bottles designed by Giorgetto Giugiaro in 1987 with a DOP logo.

The price for a small 100 ml bottle is 70€. Depending on the producer. Quite a lot, but when you have in mind that some of those bottles have parts of the aceto balsamico dating back to 1600’s or 1800’s it’s actually not that much.

Beside this small gold-filled balsamic vinegar, the Giusti acetaia offers variety of other products related to aceto. So, there’s all kind of balsamic vinegar sorted according to the medals they have won, but also some balsamic vinegar creams and balsamic vinegar with different flavors and tastes. The tasting after the tour helps you to decide which of those you would like to take home.

So, if you ever find yourself in this region, do yourself a favour and visit one of the many acetaias in the area. You won’t regret it!

 

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CRNO ZLATO IZ MODENE ILI ŠTO JE ACETO BALSAMICO?

Sigurna sam da ste nebrojeno puta čuli za balzamični ocat, a možda ga i upotrebljavate u svakodnevnom životu, no nikad zapravo niste bili sigurni kako i od čega se pravi. Radi li se od vina? Grožđa? Bijelog? Crnog? Eh, pa vrijeme je da saznate 🙂

Samo pet minuta vožnje od sirarne Quattro Madonne u Lesignani, nalazi se najstarija tvornica balzamičnog octa na području Modene.

Utemeljena 1605. i još uvijek pod nadzorom obitelji, Acetaia Giuseppe Giusti, smatra se najstarijom kompanijom balzamičnog octa na svijetu. Nagrađena brojnim nagradama za kvalitetu, acetaia je istovremeno prepoznata kao jedan od najprestižnijih proizvođača balzamičnog octa, a nije zgorega napomenuti da je jedan od Giuseppea iz obitelji Giusti nominiran za službenog dobavljača kraljevske kuće Savoia 1929. godine.

Acetaia se otvorila početkom 17. stoljeća kao trgovina za prodaju octa u Modeni, da bi početkom 20. st. bila preimenovana u ”Premiata Salumeria Giusti”.  Mjesto je i dan danas na gurmanskom popisu, a našao se i na našem, no zbog novogodišnjih praznika samo smo poljubili vrata.

Početkom devedesetih, s tavana trgovine u Modeni, Acetaia Giusti se preselila na farmu u blizini Modene, gdje su vlasnici odlučili otvoriti svoja vrata brojnim zaljubljenicima u hranu i balzamični ocat.

Prvog listopada 2018. otvoren je muzej gdje zaposlenici danas svakodnevno provode znatiželjnike kroz podrume i prostorije imanja.

 Proizvodnja balzamičnog octa oduvijek je bila dio obiteljskog života. Ako ste posjedovali vinograd pravili bi vino i/ili balzamični ocat. Zapravo, nekoć davno, ocat se smatrao ljekovitim sredstvom koje je moglo izliječiti sve bolesti. Uostalom, naziv balzamični dolazi od riječi balm (pomada).

Balzamični ocat često bi se koristio u svakodnevnoj uporabi ili čak kao poklon ili miraz. Dugotrajna metoda sazrijevanja, male količine dobivene dugom i strpljivom izradom, te tradicionalna procedura značila je da je vinski podrum gdje se ocat čuvao bio vrlo cijenjen. Upravo zbog ovih razloga, u podrum su imali pristup samo članovi obitelji te posebice majstor koji je radio ocat.

Kristalizirani ocat iz razbijene boce iz 17. st

Dvije vrste balzamičnog octa koje se rade gotovo na isti način od reduciranog grožđanog mošta, što nekoliko godina dozrijeva u nizu drvenih bačvi, proizvode se isključivo u provincijama Modene ili Reggio Emilije (Aceto Balsamico Tradizionale di Modena DOP, Aceto Balsamico Tradizionale di Reggio Emilia DOP). Oba imena su zaštićena europskim dokumentima o zaštićenom podrijetlu dok se nešto jeftiniji IGP balzamični ocat radi od kombinacije mošta i vinskog octa.

Proizvodnja octa počinje u kasno ljeto ili jesen, s prvom berbom grožđa od kojih su sorte Lambrusco ili Trebbiano savršeni i obavezni, zbog svoje visoke koncentracije šećera i autentičnosti proizvoda.

Grožđe se gnječi i mošt se kuha na temperaturi od 95° C dok se šećeri ne karameliziraju i mošt dobije finu smeđu boju.

Kuhani mošt prebacuje se u spremnike da fermentira sve do proljeća kad se prebacuje u drvene bačve rađene od različitog drveta (dud, kesten, višnja, borovica i hrast) i raznih zapremina.

Sve bačve pune se isti dan i ne diraju se do jeseni. Količina fermentiranog soka smanjit će se zbog isparavanja, tako da se bačve na jesen nadopunjavaju, s tim da proces kreće od manje prema većoj bačvi. Prva bačva se isprazni, jer se prelije u drugu, tako da se u nju naljeva svježe kuhani mošt od te jeseni.

Mala mala bačvica, s heklanim miljeom kojim se pokriva otvor na bačvi. Ovakve bačvice najčešće bi se koristile za miraz

Proces prelijevanja iz jedne u drugu bačvu ponavlja se barem narednih 12 godina, ako ne i duže, sve dok se iz najmanje bačve ne izvuče jedna litra kojom se napuni nekoliko malih bočica, specifičnog trbušastog dizajna koje je kreirao Giorgetto Giugiaro in 1987. Sve imaju logo i DOP znak.

Cijena jedne takve bočice od 100 ml kreće se oko petstotinjak kuna, no morate imati na umu da neke od takvih bočica u sebi sadrže ocat star i po nekoliko stotina godina.

Osim ovih malih, crnim zlatom punjenih bočica, Acetaia Giusti nudi raznorazne balzamične octe, okrunjene raznim medaljama na natjecanjima, kao i kreme od octa ili ocat s raznim okusima. Ima za svakog po nešto, a kušanje nekoliko vrsti octa na kraju ture, pomoći će vam, kao što je i nama, da se odlučite za svoj ocat.

Ako se ikad nađete u ovoj regiji, krcatoj acetajama, svakako se odlučite za posjet jednoj od njih. Čut ćete brojne zanimljive priče iz povijesti pojedine obitelji, ali najvažnije, vratit ćete se barem s jednom bočicom najdivnijeg balzamičog octa.

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