Updated: Sep 6, 2019
Today is the day I have been waiting for, a visit to an acetaia (or house of balsamic vinegar). There are too many factories to choose from so we ask our lovely host Benedetta for a recommendation. She knows the owner of Acetaia Montale Rangone and phones them to set up a private tour for us. I am jumping with excitement. See map: Acetaia Montale Rangone The acetaia is about a 15 minute drive. We pass several large producers and a couple of small villages along the way. We arrive and are met by an elderly lady leaving the grounds with her bottles full of sweet balsamic vinegar. She does not speak a word of English and goes on in Italian on how we get inside. We gathered that there is a bell to ring and then we wait for admission. Marcello comes out and warmly greets us in English. What a relief! He is a young man in his twenties and it is his family that owns the acetaia. The family fist started making balsamic vinegar in 1880 and they still use that first barrel. It is painted with a red ring and is their family jewel.
We begin in a long rectangular room filled with equal sized barrels and a couple very large barrels off to the side. These barrels hold the first kind of balsamic vinegar.
This where the Indicazione Geographica Protetta (IGP) balsamic vinegar is made. IGP is made with grapes from the hills of Modena (must) and red wine vingar. This combination results in a higher acidity of about 6% and is what we usually find in our supermarkets.The smell is pungent, sour and reminiscent of a wine cellar. I could drink in the aroma all day.
Behind this room we find ourselves in the Traditional Balsamic Vinegar (or Aceto Balsamico Tradizionale)) room. This is where the pure balsamic is brought to life. This product is 100% pure aged grape must from grapes picked in the province of Modena, mostly Trebbiano and Lumbrusco grapes. No additives or colors can be used.