Traditional Balsamic Vinegar of Modena is the famous black gold from Italy. While its less fancy cousin, regular balsamic vinegar, makes a great condiment for salads, the genuine traditional balsamic vinegar instead is a treat to be savored in small amounts over cheese, roasts, or dessert. It is produced and aged for at least 12 years or at least 25 years. The production process is followed closely by a consortium tasked with protecting the quality and name of traditional balsamic vinegar. The Giuseppe Giusti Aceto Balsamico Tradizionale Extravecchio reviewed here has been aged for at least 25 years in Modena, Italy, in the world’s oldest balsamic vinegar producing acetaia (vinegar producer in Italian).
Giusti is a famous name in Modena, Italy. The Acetaia Giusti was founded back in 1605, which makes it the oldest balsamic vinegar producer in Italy and the world. To this day, it is a family-run acetaia. It is now in the hands of the 17th Giusti generation. Like most traditional balsamic vinegar producers, the Acetaia Giusti is a member of the Consorzio Tutela, a consortium of vinegar producers tasked with guaranteeing the quality of traditional balsamic vinegar. This consortium produces 98% of all of the certified Traditional Balsamic Vinegar of Modena. If you are curious about how the Acetaia Giusti looks, check out their video on YouTube. It’s a little long, but very well produced.
Evaluation of the Product Features
The five important factors to look at when evaluating balsamic vinegar are: name & origin, packaging, ingredients, price, and intended usage. Details for each factor are discussed at length in the buyer’s guide for balsamic vinegar.
The Name and Origin
The Acetaia Giusti calls this balsamic vinegar the “Giuseppe Giusti Aceto Balsamico Tradizionale Extravecchio“. Aceto Balsamico Tradizionale is the traditional balsamic vinegar. The full product name includes “DOP” which is the abbreviation for Denominazione di Origine Protetta (Protected Designation of Origin = PDO). This means that the product followed a very specific, traditional production process in Modena, Italy, that was closely followed by the consortium. Extravecchio is Italian and means “extra old”. DOP Traditional Balsamic Vinegar can only be sold as aged for at least 12 years or at least 25 years. The extravecchio on the product indicates that this particular balsamic has been aged for at least 25 years.
As explained in the buyer’s guide, the genuine DOP Traditional Balsamic Vinegar of Modena is sold in specific 100ml bottles. The Giuseppe Giusti Aceto Balsamico Tradizionale Extravecchio is sold in the correct bottle as shown below.
Also very visible is the seal on the bottle above. This seal, shown in a more detailed version on the right, is a certification by the European Union. It guarantees that the product was made using only a certain type of grape and no additional ingredients. It also implies that the consortium conducted repeated monitoring and oversight throughout the whole production process.
The only ingredient a real Traditional Balsamic Vinegar of Modena is allowed to contain is grape must (i.e., pressed, unfermented grapes). Grape must can also be listed as its Italian equivalent Mosto d’Uva or as “aged grape must”. The Giuseppe Giusti Aceto Balsamico Tradizionale Extravecchio lists “Mosto cotto di uve trebbiano e lambrusco” which means cooked grape must from Trebbiano and Lambrusco grapes. These two grape varieties are two of seven approved local grape varieties that go into making balsamic vinegar. Since only one ingredient is listed, you can be sure that no additives were used in the making of this balsamic vinegar.
I believe that traditional balsamic vinegar is the reason why balsamic vinegar is called “black gold”. It is the gold standard in terms of balsamic vinegars and this is reflected in the price. The Giuseppe Giusti Aceto Balsamico Tradizionale Extravecchio comes in a nice package with a small pourer and seems more expensive than a number of its competitors.
The Intended Usage
As is common for the 25-year variation of the traditional balsamic vinegars, this balsamic is sweet and dense. The Acetaia Giusti says it can go with any recipe and states that traditionally it is added to parmesan cheese, grilled shellfish, strawberries and vanila icecream. They even say that some people savor a small spoonfull as a digestive after eating. Most important to know is that you shouldn’t cook with it, but instead add it to finished plates. And keep in mind that you don’t need much. Drizzling is the way to go.
My Italian Inspiration Rating
I really like the Giuseppe Giusti Aceto Balsamico Tradizionale Extravecchio. It is more expensive than some of the comparable balsamics you find online. However, this is one of the more rare occasions that the seller/brand is also the producer. And in this case, the producer happens to be the oldest balsamic vinegar producer in the world. That’s pretty impressive. I’ve had the fortune to try this specific traditional balsamic vinegar at a tour in the actual acetaia. You really taste the difference to the younger and non-DOP versions; even though many of those have different uses anyways, so the comparison isn’t really fair. Then again, being in the beautiful acetaia and tasting traditional balsamic vinegar surrounded by barrels and barrels of aging vinegar surely didn’t hurt the experience. Regardless, definitely a thumbs up for this one.
Comparison to Similar Products
How does the Giuseppe Giusti Aceto Balsamico Tradizionale Extravecchio compare to similar products? Take a look at this comparison chart and find out how it stacks up against other traditional balsamic vinegars that have been aged for at least 25 years too.