The silver label on Aceto Balsamico Tradizionale di Reggio Emilia by San Giacomo indicates that this traditional balsamic has been aged between 18 and 20 years. The different types of wood where this balsamic aged gave it a rich and complex bouquet and a thick, viscous consistency. It strikes the perfect balance between sweet and savory and makes a delicious dressing for roasted meat or vegetables and a creative topping for creamy desserts. For a classic Emilian combination and killer appetizer plate, drizzle it on thick chunks of aged Vacche Rosse cheese
. According to producer Andrea Bezzecchi, it's excellent on risotto or dense vegetable soups and takes boiled or mashed potatoes to a new level.
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.