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.