balsamic vinegar pdo aging

Balsamic vinegar from Modena PDO is a globally renowned condiment, appreciated for its unique taste and its versatility in the kitchen. One of the most captivating aspects of this product is its aging process, which significantly contributes to the complexity of its flavor and the density of its consistency… and to the high cost!

But how exactly does the aging of Balsamic Vinegar from Modena PDO occur? 

The production process of Balsamic Vinegar from Modena PDO is defined by special rules by the “Consorzio Tutela Aceto Balsamico di Modena” and it’s an art that combines tradition, patience, and attention to detail. It includes three different stages that prepare the grape must for its long and characteristic maturation phase:

  1. Grape selection: production begins with the selection of local grapes, mainly Lambrusco, Trebbiano, Sangiovese, Albana, Ancellotta, Fortana, and Montuni. The grapes are grown in the province of Modena;
  2. Must cooking: the grape must (the juice of the grapes) is slowly cooked in open vats for several hours until it is reduced by about half. This process concentrates the natural sugars of the must;
  3. Fermentation and acidification: the cooked must is then transferred to wooden barrels where the natural fermentation process begins, followed by acetification due to the action of natural acetic bacteria. The liquid is subsequently transferred to a series of wooden barrels of different sizes and types of wood (such as chestnut, cherry, oak, mulberry, and juniper). Here begins the long aging process, during which the vinegar matures, developing its aromatic complexity and density.

How old can be a Balsamic Vinegar PDO?
The aging process of a Balsamic Vinegar PDO can last from a minimum of 12 years for the “Affinato” quality to over 25 years for the “Extravecchio” version.

During aging, decanting is carried out, which involves periodic transfers of vinegar from one barrel to another to compensate for evaporation and promote oxidation and absorption of the characteristics of each type of wood. After the required aging period, the vinegar is evaluated by a panel of experts to ensure its quality. Only after this evaluation can the vinegar be bottled in traditional bottles and sold as Traditional Balsamic Vinegar of Modena PDO.