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Our 25 year old "Extravecchio" balsamic vinegar has also been made by the Tagliavini family at their Acetaia at Ponterotto, Soliera, just North of Modena which my Wife and I visited at the end of March 2005. However, here we are able to bottle it in any of our beautiful bottles ranging from 40 mls to 2000 mls.
How is it best used?
Personally I find I am quite happily simply consuming this vinegar by the spoonful! It has a perfect balance of flavour, a taste goes on an on for ever. It can be used in a multitude of more sophisticated ways, on undercut beef, on Parmesan Cheese or over strawberries or ice cream. Its taste will never disappoint and will even remain in good useable condition for a further 25 years. Not that you will be able to keep it that long!
How is this made?
Only the 2 types of Traditional Balsamic recognised by the Consortium of Producers of Traditional Balsamic Vinegar are produced by the Tagliavini's at their acetaia. These are the 12 year old, known as "Affinato" and the 25 year old known as "Extravecchio". In order to be classed as such by the Consortium they must have been aged by at least 12 or 25 years respectively and be made in accordance with the strict controls and procedures laid down. The grapes are pressed as in winemaking and the must then boiled in open vats over a fire. The must is then placed in wooden barrels where oxidization and evaporation mature the vinegar. As evaporation reduces the amount the vinegar is transferred to smaller and smaller barrels until the 25 year point is reached.