“In the manor house’s attics, Giuseppe Biondi tended seventy sets of balsamic vinegar barrels: three hundred and fifty casks, arranged in sets of five, from the largest in oak to the smallest in mulberry wood, with intermediate sizes in chestnut, cherry and ash. Then there were the special sets, which Alfredo called the cuvées: one in juniper, which provided a spicy flavour, and two in cherry, for a vinegar with the sweet flavour of the fruit grown at nearby Vignola.” […]
“He put on his apron and opened the green iron door of the large shed where he kept the big casks of grape must, the vats, the demijohns and the new sets of barrels for breaking-in. […] As soon as he walked in, the fragrance of the balsamic vinegar hit him. He breathed it in through his open mouth, sucking it into his lungs, where it gave him a sensation of health and peace.”
Roberto Valentini, “Nero Balsamico”, 2005, Todaro Editore
More than anything else, balsamic vinegar is history.
Having the good fortune and the privilege of tasting real traditional balsamic vinegar means being overwhelmed by years and years of history, of waiting, of human stories, of humid summer heat and damp winter cold, and of antique woods which, year by year, bestow a unique flavour on the alchemic liquid in the barrels.