In the pantheon of Italian food products one type of vinegar stands above all others, Aceto Balsamico from Modena. A true Aceto Balsamico is made according to guidelines that go back to the noble families of Modena. It was so highly prized that Alfonso I, Duke of Ferrara (who took his ducal feasting seriously) even maintained his own acetaia, a loft where vinegar barrels are stored.
After spending a few days at an acetaia in Reggio Emilia, my appreciation for a true artisan aceto balsamico has grown. If you have been put off by the price point of a traditional balsamic and less than satisfied with the off the shelf brands (full of preservatives and artificial colors), then let me introduce you to my preferred choice, a 6 year old balsamic who acts like a 15 year old. That doesn't mean my balsamic is acting precocious rather it means this vinegar is very good and mature in a way that you usually only expect to find in a well-aged balsamic.
Just outside of Modena in Emilia Romagna, the Maletti family has been producing quality traditional balsamic vinegars for generations and offers a prized balsamic with an extraordinary density, aroma and depth of flavor and a clean delicate finish that contradicts its age and modest price. Maletti Aged Balsamic is a 6 year balsamic that is often mistaken for a 10,12 or even a 15 year old. Rich, syrupy and fragrant, it is aged in French Allier oak barrels giving this 6 year balsamic a mature taste and a smooth finish. Excellently balanced and versatile with IGP Certification*, Maletti Aged Balsamic of Modena is a 2009 Sofi™** Gold Award Winner for Outstanding Vinegar. Judged through anonymous tastings across 47 categories using criteria that include flavor, appearance, texture, aroma, ingredient quality and innovation, differentiating it among its class with an endorsement of a product's excellence.
*Indicazione Geografica Protetta - Protected Geographical Indication
**SOFI (Specialty Food Association)