Fondo Montebello 13 Year Old Balsamic Vinegar (8.45 fl.oz)
From a local product made by the Modena collective, over the past three centuries Balsamic Vinegar of Modena has become an internationally recognized Italian product of excellence, in Europe and all over the world. Its characteristics, the balance between sourness and sweetness (originating from the blend between grape must and wine vinegar), and the harmony it brings to every dish has met with approval from numerous culinary cultures.
Aceto Balsamico di Modena IGP is one of three protected designations of origin for balsamic vinegar. To be labeled as such, it must be produced by one of two traditional growing consortia and follow a strict recipe for its production using only wine vinegar and cooked white grape must in strict proportions with no other ingredients.
Actually, there are two types of Balsamic Vinegar of Modena IGP, depending on their aging: 1) aged more than 60 days, and 2) aged more than 3 years. Our Fondo Montebello is definitely in the higher category, having been aged for 13 years in a succession of smaller and smaller casks made out of chestnut, cherry, ash, mulberry, juniper, and oak like a fine bourbon, scotch whisky or wine.
Because of the strict, controlled and time-consuming production process which limits the amount that can be produced, and the fact that only two grower consortia are authorized to make it, traditional balsamic vinegar from Modena can cost as much as a thousand dollars for a small bottle. But this is the same treasure given to Holy Roman Emperor Henry III in 1046, so if you have the means, you can enjoy a taste of history along with your enjoyment of the balsamic vinegar (which is often served, neat, as an aperitif like brandy or sherry--after all, the name "balsamic" is derived from the same root word as "balm" meaning to sooth).
Aceto Balsamico di Modena IGP (first introduced to the United States by Chuck Williams of Williams-Sonoma fame in 1977) is a much less expensive product which bears many of the distinctive qualities of the traditional balsamic vinegar, but which can be made with grapes from outside the region and skips the lengthy fermentation stage of the production process (which is why you can get Aceto Balsamico di Modena IGP in as little as 60 days). But for most of us (Chuck Williams included) this more accessible and affordable delight is a wonderful way to share some of the pleasure once reserved for Emperors. Enjoy!