Working just off the historic square in the center of the old town of Castelvetro, southwest of Modena, Italy, Roberta Pelloni and her husband Marino Tintori make a range of great vinegars. Although Americans tend to gravitate toward sweet caramel-flavored balsamics, Marino is quick to emphasize “the key to great Balsamico is balance.” Exaggerating sweetness is an easy way to enhance appeal and reduce the need for proper blending and aging. You might not notice it at first, but after many uses overly sweet balsamics get kind of dull. Not so with those from the Tintoris. We've been selling them for over a decade, and they have a legion of followers who return to them again and again.
A staff and customer favorite, their 10 year aged balsamic is the most intensely flavored balsamic of its age I’ve ever tried. Its complexity, with rich flavors of oak, blackberry and dark fruit, is partly due to aging in very small batches. That allows more evaporation and contact with the barrel—both of which contribute to more intense flavors. Although aged for only 25 percent longer than the 8 year balsamic, the intensity of flavor is almost double.
Zingerman's Food Tours is visiting Tuscany and Emilia-Romagna in October, 2013. Join us for a behind-the-scenes insiders' journey to traditional food makers like this.
The laws concerning balsamic vinegar have recently changed. Instead of the age, producers must now print the density of the vinegar on the label. The higher the density, the older the vinegar. The 10 Year is now noted by its density: 1.22.