What about Glauco?
We first met Glauco in Piacenza, at a small food fair. He was standing behind his small table and proudly telling the story of his Aceto Balsamico “Oro Nero” (“Black Gold” Balsamic Vinegar). A quiet, likeable man, with an open look, Glauco captured our attention as contrary to all his neighbours he was seemingly not interested in just “closing a deal” with each stand visitor. No, what Glauco wanted was for us to understand the incredibly complex preparation of his balsamic vinegar. Indeed he does not talk about “production”, but about “preparation” as it is truly a labour of love!
Since 1985 Glauco produces his “Black Gold” between the cellar and the attic of his house in Carpi, a few kilometres from Modena. There the vinegar enjoys the ideal climatic conditions for its ripening: The summer heat contributes to the aging and concentration of flavours while during the cold winter months the vinegar decants becoming clearer and cleaner.
Every step in the preparation of Oro Nero is strictly controlled, from the selection of freshly squeezed grape juice to the sensory evaluation of the aged vinegar before bottling. The vinegar ages for at least 2 years in the barrel set, a series of different wooden casks arranged according to a decreasing size scale, where the product undergoes profound changes. “Each barrel is made of a different wood”, Glauco explains. “Using only oak would not produce the complexity and depth of flavours we are looking for, therefore we also use chestnut, cherry, mulberry, and juniper”. He then goes on to explain how each of those woods releases different aromatic compounds in the balsamic vinegar, all contributing to the vinegars character. The artistry is to precisely evaluate the amount of time the vinegar spends in each barrel to produce the perfect mix, his “Oro Nero”!