The exquisite Balsamic vinegar from Modena

Aceto balsamico di modena. Aceto means vinegar in Italian. The aceto balsamico di Modena is handmade / artisanal by tradition. It is made from the boiled mosto (the base for wine before fermentation) and it rests in barrells of different sizes in which it ages until it is ready for consumption. I use aceto balsamico to dress the salad, together with Extra virgin olive oil and salt. A good balsamic vinegar for salad could range from a good bottle bought at the supermarket to an artisanal product aged up to 15-20 year. Balsamic vinegars older then that are best suited to accompany a tasting of grana padano or parmigiano reggiano, or with strawberries. Some of my favourite recipes with balsamic vinegar are the avvocado and bacon salad and the roast beef with parmesan scallions and rocket. The prices for balsamic vinegar can vary from 5 Euros of an industrial winegar to 200 Euros for a tiny bottle with 10 cl containing a winegar aged between more then 50 years. The artisanal balsamic vinegar is made by the fermentation of the boiled mosto, in this process the mosto acquire density and the tastes sweet and acid are melt together to give the balsamic vinegar it’s natural sweet and sour taste. The older it gets the more simultaneous it the perception of sweet and acid is. With age the balsamic vinegar increases also the thickness and the smooth feeling at the tasting. The best places to buy the balsamic vinegar are the traditional delis that you will find in the centres of the cities of Emilia Romagna, modena in paticular and in the capital of the region   Bologna

Radicchio salad
Radicchio salad

Radicchio salad dressed with Extra Virgin Olive Oil and Traditional Balsamic Vinegar invecchiato

Traditional Balsamic Vinegar invecchiato
Traditional Balsamic Vinegar invecchiato

This precious cruet will enable you to discover one of the most ancient and fascinating traditions of Modena.

The Balsamic Vinegar

The Balsamic Vinegar Protected Designation of Origin

Thanks to ancient techniques that have been consolidated and passed down from generation to generation, traditional balsamic vinegar of Modena (TBVM) is the very best expression of the fruits of our land, work and human passion.

The Acetaia del Cristo…

for three generations we have been working in order to pass on the cultural heritage and charm of TRADITIONAL BALSAMIC VINEGAR of MODENA, which in the past was restricted to family use and closely guarded in the attics of our forefathers.

To date, we can still claim we are the most important world producer of Traditional Balsamic Vinegar of Modena, thanks to 2000 casks exclusively used to produce Traditional Balsamic Vinegar of Modena PDO (Protected Designation of Origin).

It is us personally, along with our families, who carry out every single step in full compliance with the most ancient traditions and the PDO (Protected Designation of Origin) regulations: from cultivating our organically farmed grapes, to vintage, must cooking and the delicate drawing, decanting and topping-up operations

One against all.. …all against One!

At Acetaia del Cristo we believe that the real success of Traditional Balsamic Vinegar of Modena lies in the exploitation of the long ageing process and the characteristics that the different traditional woods provide in terms of inimitable perfumes, aromas and flavours.

These are the basic and necessary factors leading to the P.D.O. quality certification witnessed by a numbered seal placed on each cruet.

The whole global production of Traditional Balsamic Vinegar of Modena PDO slightly exceeds hundred hectolitres per year. If compared with the millions of litres of other products claiming to be “Balsamic”, this confirms the excellent quality and great value of the product – as well as the high costs of the production process. Unlike all other “Balsamic” products, this is no “secret recipe” mixing and blending different ingredients; rather: The Traditional Balsamic Vinegar of Modena PDO is ONLY obtained from cooked autochthonous grape must from Modena (Ancellotta, Berzemino, Lambrusco, Occhio di Gatta, Sauvignon, Trebbiano, Sgavetta, in addition to other RDO and RGDO varieties), without any added substances.

The Traditional Balsamic Vinegar of Modena is Not made… it is oftained

It is obtained through a long and careful evolution inside groups of casks of different sizes and arranged in decreasing order. For centuries, those casks called “Batteries” have traditionally been preserved and placed in the attics of houses. Production and refinement go hand in hand.

After at least 12 years the vinegar drawn from the smaller casks can be defined “TRADITIONAL” Balsamic Vinegar of Modena, after 25 years it is termed “EXTRA-OLD” Balsamic Vinegar of Modena (always pursuant to the rigorous PDO regulations).

Traditional Balsamic Vinegar of Modena is always and exclusively drawn from the smallest cask and accounts for 3% of the whole reserve. Every year, in order to top up the levels, small quantities are skilfully replaced by transferring vinegar from the larger casks to the smaller ones according to very strict criteria.

Natural climatic changes determined by the alternating seasons promote the natural biological processes of alcohol fermentation, acetic bi-oxidation and enzymatic lysis which create the texture and complex aromas of balsamic vinegar.

Long, endless maturing, concentration and ageing processes complete the full development of the product in perfectly balanced harmony and lead to the sweet and sour character of Traditional Balsamic Vinegar of Modena PDO.

The final bottling quality is checked for each single lot under the strict monitoring of an ad-hoc tasting board

Protected designation of origin (PDO) Balsamic Vinegar

The P.D.O. seal of the Italian Ministry for Agricultural, Food and Forestry Policies and the unmistakable and characteristic cruet, defined by law, especially designed by “Giugiaro Design” and only available in the 100 ml format, ensure full compliance with the P.D.O. regulations throughout the whole production chain, as well as high quality standards in terms of organoleptic parameters, which are regularly checked for each bottling batch so that consumers are fully guaranteed.

However, the rigorous production regulations rightly provides a certain margin for each “character”: every single “Acetaia” or even every single battery produce their own type of vinegar

The small label on the cruet is the symbol of the “Acetaia” manager who has skilfully interpreted and interacted with the elements of nature to contribute to produce Traditional Balsamic Vinegar of Modena: the grape must (the only ingredient), the wooden casks (the containers) and the fermentation, maturation and ageing processes (the natural microbiological transformations).

At ACETAIA DEL CRISTO we are fully aware of and strongly believe in these values, as clearly shown by the important awards received by our label and selection in the course of the years.

The only way to fully Evaluate the qualities of a Traditional Balsamic Vinegar is TASTING it!

Tasting is the only way to perceive the astonishing perfume and aroma produced by tiny doses of Balsamic Vinegar, as a successful blend, an explosion of very peculiar fragrances, a triumph of different aromatic peaks.

Each one of us can experience the same feelings perceived by an inspired sommelier: one single drop in a teaspoon is enough to be plunged into the symphony of real microcosm of aromas!

History of Balsamic Vinegar from Modena and Reggio Emilia

…Extraordinary Peculiarity!

From time immemorial, Balsamic Vinegar has been part of the culture and history of the ancient duchy of the Este family. Its very essence mirrors the characteristics of the style and character of the local population, shaped by historical events and peculiar climatic conditions.

Since the Roman age, this area of Italy has been famous because of its great vine production Must was cooked to preserve it and produce food resources which played a very important strategic role in military and economic terms. Cicero, Pliny and Virgil mentioned these facts and Columella reported on the special behaviour of the must in the area: even after been cooked, it tended to ferment and turn into vinegar (…solet acescere…). Probably, some cooked must (Saba or Sapa) which may have been forgotten, continued to age during a long fermentation process and developed the unique and unmistakable characteristics that today are still attributed to Traditional Balsamic Vinegar.

In 1046, King Henry II of Franconia expressed his great appreciation for the Vinegar of the Marquis of Canossa. In the following centuries, a number of documents report on the great value attached to the Traditional Balsamic Vinegar, which was then called “Vinegar according to the Modena fashion”. It was considered part of the family heritage and was included in last wills and testaments or in the dowry of young aristocrat brides

It was carefully stored in attics and lovingly attended generation after generation, since it was considered a sort of all-curing remedy for any kind of illness.

In 1792, on the occasion of the crowning of the Austrian Emperor Francis I, a cruet of Balsamic Vinegar was the important gift presented by Duke Ercole III. Vinegar was rarely sold and, if this was the case, it was a gift for “Kings and Princes”. From the Renaissance on the Balsamic Vinegar of the cellars of the Este Family has been very well known among the most important families of the European aristocracy. Its use in the kitchen is envisaged in recipes and traditions carefully passed on as family secrets.

In 1839 Count Giorgio Gallesio was amazed by the characteristics of the Balsamic Vinegar and described its production procedures as implemented in the vinegar cellars of Count Salimbeni.

In 1863 institutional scientists focussed for the first time on this noble product. The (then) modern analysis by Prof. Fausto Sensini were published in the book “Sopra gli Aceti Balsamici nel Modenese and stressed the huge differences emerging between the traditional Balsamic vinegar and any other kind of vinegar: “in the provinces of Modena and Reggio Emilia, for time immemorial a special quality of vinegar has been produced whose physical traits and excellent aroma are mirrored in the name “Balsamic Vinegar…”

In 1861 Aggazzotti, a lawyer, in his letters sent to his friend Fabriani, explained the ancient secret procedures implemented by his family.

Recent History:

The Latest Events…

Since 1967, “Consorteria dell’Aceto Balsamico

Tradizionale di Modena”, an association of fans and supporters of the precious vinegar, thanks to their constant and hard promotional work, has played a vital role to publicise the product and enhance its qualitative selection. The Traditional Balsamic Vinegar has left the secret recesses of attics and Courts and has faced the world as an important representative of the history, culture and tradition of the cuisine of the ancient territories of the Este duchy (part of today’s Provinces of Modena and Reggio Emilia).

In 1978 the Traditional Balsamic Vinegar of Modena started being marketed thanks to the creation of the Consortium of Producers of the Traditional Balsamic Vinegar of Modena

In 1977 it was awarded the RDO certification (Italian ministerial decree 09/02/1977).

In 2000 it was awarded the PDO certification (Italian ministerial decree 15/05/200). In 2002, owing to breaches of contract, the Consortium

of Producers of the Traditional Balsamic Vinegar of Modena was discharged as the Agency to safeguard the product (01/03/2002).

In 2003, following a complex series of events, the Consortium to Safeguard the Traditional Balsamic Vinegar of Modena was founded, also supported by local public authorities, which included the majority of producers.

In 2009 the Italian Ministry for Agricultural, Food and Forestry Policies officially established the Consortium to Safeguard the Traditional Balsamic Vinegar of Modena as the agency to safeguard the product


Our History

in the meantime, af Acetaia del Cristo…

When the Producers’ Consortium was founded, the commercial activity was developed that, in the course of the years, turned the Barbieri Farm into ACETAIA DEL CRISTO.

Eugenio Barbieri and Loris Bellei combined their inheritances (batteries of century-old casks) as well as their experience and started increasing the number of casks, gradually filling the rooms of the ancient rural house of the farm.

In 1987 Otello Bonfatti, the son in law, replaced Loris

and the number of casks continued to increase… In 1995 Erika Barbieri started working to meet the growing commercial needs and the number of casks continued to increase…

In 2000 Daniele Bonfatti started being increasingly available to help his parents in the management of production and the number of casks continued to increase…

In 2003 also Gilberto Barbieri was involved in the management of casks, which continued to increase…

In 2005 the third generation was fully involved in the activities and the Farm became the ACETAIA DEL CRISTO Società Agricola. Over 2000 casks were available!

Today we can claim we are the largest operator in the sector of Traditional Balsamic Vinegar of Modena, including 2000 casks, barrels and ancient vats. In addition, we deal with the largest range of aged products in terms of quality and diversity thanks to the different types of wooden casks (always in compliance with our tradition).

Come experience this extraordinary Farm!


from the Casks to the Pantry…

The flexibility of the Traditional Balsamic Vinegar of Modena PDO and its long ageing in traditional woods make its suitable for any menu: salads, meat, fish, cheese and desserts of any kind. A few drops, always added after cooking or even better, while assembling the dish to be served, provide a jubilation of aromatic sensations.

A 100 ml cruet allows to customise over seventy


After use, close the bottle and store it in a normal kitchen environment far from direct sources of light, heat or refrigeration, e.g. a cupboard next to the oil bottle. Its high, natural acidity makes Traditional Balsamic Vinegar of Modena eternally healthy, even though the law envisages that the label must show an expiry date amounting to maximum ten years after the bottling date.

just one Drop Contains.. let’s Not Waste it!

To pay tribute to the value and commitment leading to the Traditional Balsamic Vinegar of Modena PDO, as well as the high concentration achieved in the course of the years spent in the casks, a few drops are enough to season any food.


If your package is equipped with this very useful


open the cruet by removing the protective capsule from the cap

– remove the blown glass ball from the package and carefully detach it from the dosing cap

insert the dosing cap halfway into the cruet neck: it will help you to pour out the precious nectar sparingly

close and open again by simply repositioning the glass ball on the dosing cap.

Let us not be so naive as to think that…

Balsamic Vinegar FAQs

When a balsamic vinegar ages, does it become, Traditional?

Absolutely NOT! It is the raw materials that make a difference: Traditional Balsamic Vinegar of Modena PDO is composed of 100% grape must, whereas other products are obtained from a blend of various ingredients.

A product can only use the name “Balsamic Vinegar and add the identification adjectives “Traditional” and “Traditional Extra-Old” only when, after passing all the careful checks along the full supply chain in compliance with the P.D.O. regulations, including the organoleptic test by expert tasters, it is bottled exclusively in authorised centres in the specific 100 ml cruet authorised by the law and designed by “Giugiaro Design”.

Can reference be made to a number of years of ageing?

Reporting the length of the ageing process in years is strictly forbidden by the P.D.O. and P.G.I. regulations


since the production process involves topping up annually. “Balsamic” vinegar is not aged by being closed and sealed in casks for many years.

Any number leading customers to believe it is shows the outright desire to “…draw attention…”.

Is ageing a synonym of quality?

This is one of the most trivial mistakes! In “Balsamic” vinegar the ageing consists of the very

long production process Therefore, the passion, care and attention given to every operation by the producer are of vital importance.

Of course, the production of grapes, the subsequent transformations of the must through cooking and fermentation, as well as the care in the maturation and ageing processes involving the selection of casks and

their woods are paramount Inadequate material and insufficient care lead to deterioration, decay and bad odours.

The ageing process has an enhancing function, both positively and negatively: bad quality can only worsen in the course of the years. Just try!

The denser it is, the better it is: is this true? The eye is also important but the tongue has the final

say… Of course, density is the most marked and apparent result of the long, slow, traditional production processes but it is also the least noble quality recognised by


A dense, sugary cream lacking in fragrances has

Let to do with the harmony and complex aromas that fill the palate and release an incomparable and persistent aftertaste. Do not be tricked by the mere appearance assess the quality by tasting the product and pass Your final judgement

Does a PDO seal mean guaranteed quality?

Yes! All the processes in the production chain are checked and certified but, in particular, the final quality has been judged as more than satisfactory, thus ensuring that:

P.D.O. Traditional Balsamic Vinegar is bottled without any reference to its age only after a production process lasting at least 12 years and with at least 229 points out of 400 awarded after an organoleptic test. The seal capsule is generally metallic red or kaki, but may also be of a different colour

“Extra-Old” is the label identifying P.D.O. Traditional Balsamic Vinegar exceeding 255/400 points during the organoleptic test and that has undergone a certified production process lasting over 25 years. The colour of the seal capsule is gold.

Do small, attractive, expensive, bottles with parchment labels identify high quality products?

NOT at all! The same product supplied for bottling, even if it has brilliantly passed the checks and test, cannot be guaranteed as Traditional Vinegar if it is not protected by the seal of the Italian Ministry for Agricultural, Food and Forestry Policies and the distinctive 100 ml cruet by Giugiaro Design Such products are generally identified as “seasoning”

or “sauce”, are in no way classified by Italian or European laws and may not use the term “Balsamic”. N.B. (the law envisages that P.G.I. Balsamic Vinegar must be bottled in bottles of at least 250 ml and completely different regulations apply).

The only recognised names are:

Aceto Balsamico Tradizionale di Modena D.O.P. (Traditional Balsamic Vinegar of Modena P.D.0.) (produced in the Province of Modena)

– Aceto Balsamico Tradizionale di Reggio Emilia D.O.P. (Traditional Balsamic Vinegar of Reggio Emilia P.D.0.) (produced in the Province of Reggio Emilia)

Aceto Balsamico di Modena I.G.P. (Balsamic Vinegar of Modena P.G.I.)

Aceto Balsamico di Modena I.G.P. (Balsamic Vinegar of Modena P.G.I.) Any other product sold as “Balsamic” is illegal. They lack certification and checks on raw materials and production processes

How often do the casks need to be replaced?

If possible, never!

The marriage between vinegar and the cask is indissoluble and as eternal as possible.

Ancient barrels, whose fibres have become so drenched and penetrated with vinegar that leaks are possible, are closed inside larger barrels in order to prevent the loss of product and at the same time maintain the organoleptic characteristics that have developed over time, so that the aromatic notes originating from the wood of the barrels continue to be transferred to the vinegar.

How can the wood still transfer its particular aromas to the balsamic vinegar after so many years?

It should be remembered that balsamic vinegar casks are never completely emptied; therefore, unlike barrique wines, in a few years of filling and emptying the tannins of the casks are never washed away.

Balsamic vinegar and the woods of its casks mature and age together during the early stages of its evolution inside the barrels, the character if the vinegar is shaped and then, in the following years, wood fibres release the “nobler tannins” into the vinegar

N.B.: Before receiving the must destined to become balsamic vinegar, a new cask is “flushed out for at least one year with strong vinegar (at the end of the process, the vinegar is discarded because it is too rich in tannins).

Balsamic vinegar pairing with food

Combinations in the kitchen
Balsamic vinegar of Modena PGI is able to complete any dish thanks to its aroma. It should always be added at the end of the preparations and off the heat, never cook it so as not to alter its aroma.

Balsamic vinegar and cheeses
Balsamic vinegar of Modena PGI and Parmigiano Reggiano come from the same land and give life to a unique union. Both have different depths based on seasoning / aging and to give the best they must be “peers”. If we put, for example, a balsamic vinegar aged 8 years on a Parmesan cheese 12 months there will be no balance. Ditto if we use balsamic vinegar aged less than a year on a cheese aged 36 months or more.

It goes very well with cow’s milk ricotta and its flavor is enhanced to the maximum, because the taste of the cheese is not so strong as to contrast that of the vinegar.

It is also excellent with gorgonzola. And since they both go very well with radicchio, a nice risotto with gorgonzola and radicchio, enriched with two drops of balsamic vinegar of Modena, preferably aged, is a guaranteed success.

Surely balsamic vinegar goes perfectly with onions, especially if baked or caramelized. The sweetness combines with the hint of acidity and creates a simply exceptional contrast of flavors. If you want to make a great impression, the caramelized onion tarte tatin with balsamic vinegar is a guarantee.

Even with the yellow squash the combination is a winner. The sweetness of the vegetables goes perfectly with that of the balsamic vinegar, but is then dampened by the acidity. For an exceptional side dish, baked yellow squash with balsamic vinegar and chopped hazelnuts for a more crunchy texture.

With tomatoes it is exceptional, but the law of age always applies. Fresh tomatoes with young balsamic vinegar, tomatoes in oil, dried or semi-dried with a vinegar that is already a few years old.

Meat and fish
The combination of balsamic vinegar with the tagliata is now classic. A fine cut of meat enriched by an exceptional product, what more could you want?

But even with chicken it manages to be well enhanced by a few drops of balsamic vinegar of Modena PGI.

The combination with fish and seafood is very original and more difficult to get right. Excellent with baked sea bass and sea bream, with tuna steaks and stuffed squid. But it is on raw foods that it gives its best. Absolutely to try on salmon tartare and raw scampi.

Sweets and fruit
Balsamic vinegar of Modena PGI goes perfectly with sweet tastes because, thanks to the hint of acidity, it manages to create a super pleasant contrast of flavors, which gives depth to the taste and cleans the mouth.

The combination with strawberries is historic. From a simple cup with a few drops on top, to toppings and sauces to garnish puddings and parfaits, strawberries and balsamic vinegar always look great together.

Ditto with pears. Especially if cooked, their sweetness can become a little excessive, but the balsamic vinegar of Modena takes care of balancing everything for a dessert that is not only sweet, full of character. Try panna cotta with caramelized pears and aged balsamic vinegar.

With grapes it is simply delicious. After all, vinegar is made from grapes, and bringing a dessert to the table that offers the two stages of the fruit can be a very interesting idea. Prepare (or get yourself) some grape ice cream, put it in a nice crunchy wafer and pour the balsamic vinegar over it. The result is nothing short of amazing. Source Italybyte >


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