We encourage you to refer to our dark balsamic as “Traditional Style Condimento, Aged Up to 18 Years”. Our dark condimento is of the highest quality and is made in Modena, Italy from cooked, high quality caramelized grape must from Trebbiano and Lambrusco grapes. The grape must in our Condimento is cooked over an open wood fire, just as DOP Traditional Balsamic grape must is. It is cooked down to the same consistency, density and dry solid extracts, actually. DOP Traditional Balsamic dictates that wood-fire-cooked grape must is then put directly in to old, fired wood barrels which were used to age balsamic in years past. These barrels become progressively smaller as the product becomes thicker and naturally evaporates over time. The barrels, as well as the product they once contained, add character to the must over time. Nothing is ever added to the cooked, caramelized must of DOP balsamic. Pro-biotic wild yeast and acetic bacteria colonize it and eventually raise the acidity. It slowly ages in this manner and turns in to "vinegar" by itself over the course of many years, hence the scarcity and price tag.
By Italian law, DOP balsamic must then undergo strenuous sensory evaluation as well as laboratory analysis which measures extensive criteria including and most importantly, dry extract solids. Once approved as DOP, it can then only be sold in 100 ml. bottles which are identical based on two exclusive regions of production, Emilio Reggiano or Modena Italy. The bottles from each region are uniform in size and shape regardless of who produced the balsamic. The consortium then licenses the producer to use the 100 ml. DOP bottle which is then wax sealed, numbered and boxed for individual sale. The wax sealed numbered bottles will never be sold unboxed, as a loose bottle by itself. Furthermore, it is never sold in other types of bottles outside of the 100ml. DOP bottle, and certainly never in bulk, EVER! Furthermore, this product is rarely, if ever used for cooking. It is far too prized and expensive. For this reason, it’s typically served drop by drop on a spoon, like a digestif after a meal. We urge you to open a tiny wax sealed and numbered bottle of DOP balsamic and compare it with our Traditional Style Balsamic Condimento of Modena, Italy. The similarity is remarkable.
The primary difference between DOP Balsamic and our condimento is that out of the gate our Condimento is inoculated with a very small amount of premium quality, barrel aged Italian wine vinegar. The barrel aged wine vinegar introduces the natural acetic bacteria and yeast and begins the process from cooked grape must to “condimento”. It is then aged using the Solera method which dictates that it be placed in a succession of different types of very old, fired wood barrels, each of which previously contained residual amounts of older balsamic dating back as far as 18 years and in some cases 25 years. It’s topped off as it moves from barrel to barrel, based on the Solera method, with younger, wood fire cooked grape must as it naturally evaporates. For this reason, no product except actual DOP certified balsamic in licensed 100 ml. bottles can make an actual age claim - ever! However, you can accurately and confidently say that our product has been “aged for up to 18 years” if you would like to mention age at all. However, age is not a criteria of quality.
As with DOP balsamic, our condimento’s very low acidity of 4% is a function of the grape must being naturally cooked down, condensed, caramelized and aged without the addition of much else, unlike so many “balsamic-like” products on the market which are not from Modena and are comprised almost wholly of poor quality wine or distilled vinegar, thickeners, color and sweeteners. The density and complexity of our condimento are a testament to the fact that it is made in Modena in the Solera method from high quality grape must, cooked down over an open wood fire. Its very high level of dried extract solids is close to, if not identical to, that of DOP Traditional Balsamic sold exclusively in 100ml. bottles. This is why our Balsamic Condimento is so delicious, complex and the highest quality available.