Aceto Balsamico Tradizionale di Reggio Emilia by San Giacomo Gold label is also called Extra Vecchio, and for a good reason. This traditional balsamic vinegar has been aged at least 25 years in the oldest wooden barrels that producer Andrea Bezzecchi inherited from his great-grandparents. With a rich, viscous consistency and perfectly balanced flavor, we think it's perfect on its own. In Emilia-Romagna, a teaspoon of this precious liquid is considered a delicious - and healing - after-dinner digestive. It goes particularly well with decadent and creamy dishes: mix it into classic Emilian recipes like pumpkin risotto, or drizzle a few drops on fresh Vacche Rosse cheese
, vanilla gelato or sweet ripe fruit.
Traditional balsamic vinegar is made by boiling local grapes and can only be produced in Modena and Reggio Emilia regions. Local grapes (in this case, Trebbiano and Lambrusco) are harvested at the peak of ripeness to ensure the optimal sugar content. The grapes are then cooked in open vats until they've boiled down to one-third the volume. This grape must is transferred to barrels made of different types of wood: oak, chestnut, mulberry, cherry, and juniper; each wood imparts its own complexity of flavor and aroma. The barrels have a hole on the top to encourage evaporation; as the water evaporates, the liquid becomes more and more concentrated and is transferred to progressively smaller barrels. This process takes years - and only when the final product is tasted and approved by the certifying committee can it bear the DOP label.
Andrea produces three levels of traditional balsamic vinegar, differentiated by the color of their labels: Red
, aged for a minimum of 12 years; Silver
, aged for 18-25 years; and Gold, also called Extra Vecchio, aged for more than 25 years.