La Vecchia Dispensa's "Aceto Balsamico Tradizionale di Modena Vecchio
" balsamic vinegar is obtained from the slow fermentation and subsequent acidification to vinegar of the must of modena trebbiano grapes cooked over direct heat, without the addition of any other substances, left to age in a series of casks of choice woods (oak, mulberry, juniper and chestnut) of different capacities, until it develops the flavor characteristics of traditional balsamico that is at least 12 years. This is determined through blind tasting by the consortium tasting panel. Achieving the proper score it receives the "white cap" and is labeled "vecchio" (old).
It has a backward nose that only reveals a whiff of acid and just a hint of caramelized sugar, no hint of the joys to come. The flavor opens with fruity notes and hints of wood before blossoming into a very complex fruit filled mid palate with a cascade of black cherry and plum notes. It moves quickly to a nice dry finish with a pleasant amount of back-of-the-palate acid. Unlike most Modena tradizionales that lean slightly to the "sweet," the acid we found in this exceptional "sipper" makes it more balanced, and one that would go well with duck, venison, and game birds.
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In gourmet cuisine balsamic vinegar can be used in the most widely varying ways; there are no specific dosages, but rules have built up over more than a century of use. Experience has shown that authentic balsamic should always be the last ingredient added to any dish, except of course when it is used to season salads.
Since it ages constantly, the characteristics of balsamic vinegar in the various ageing phases vary. After a certain number of years it becomes denser, loses fluidity and becomes much richer. At this point it should be treated with devotion, and can even be sipped at the end of a meals as an excellent aid to digestion.
Modena Balsamic Vinegar is a matured liqueur obtained from the boiled must of choice grapes grown in the Province of Modena, with the addition of colonies of vinegar bacteria known as "mothers". In the ageing process, the vinegar is transferred between a succession of barrels of different sizes and different types of wood, traditionally used in the zone, combined in specific sets. Balsamic vinegar is dark brown in color, has a piercing aroma with an attractive acid note, and becomes denser as the years pass. Its characteristics vary through the different stages of the ageing process.
Experience over the centuries has shown that balsamic vinegar should always be the last ingredient added to any dish, except when used to dress salads. Balsamic aged 20 years or more becomes denser, their fragrance and flavor are enriched, and it can be appreciated to the full on flakes of Parmesan cheese, on strawberries or on ice cream, or sipped at the end of a meal.
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