Just a little beyond a good wine is an aged vinegar. In Modena it’s revered as balsamico. Gourmet chefs seem to have embraced the allure of balsamic vinegar in the last two decades, but it was tradition passed down in Italy from father to son over centuries that resulted in the large scale acceptance of the finest vinegar condiments the world has ever known.
“Italy, and the spring and first love all together should suffice to make the gloomiest person happy.” – Bertrand Russell
The strains of classic Italian folk music are heard in the distance as the doors open on something new, yet something altogether regal. The villa in Carpi is one of Italy’s national historic landmarks and the Villa Bellentani sits as one of its crown jewels. Built in the 18th century, the Villa Bellentani harkens to an era of rich heritage and rural sensibilities. Now, this same villa is a perfect blend or uncommon historic beauty coupled with state of the art facilities for aging balsamic vinegar for yet another appreciative generation.
It’s plain to see that the world has discovered a special love affair with Modena balsamic vinegar, yet it is also true that two other facts are equally evident. 1) There doesn’t seem to be enough quality balsamic vinegar to meet growing world demand and, 2) while inferior vinegars are easily obtained they spoil the pristine image and taste of true, aged balsamic vinegar. The Italian producer Villa Bellentani is making efforts to offer some of Modena’s best vinegar, yet preserve the integrity of the balsamico heritage.
It was with a deep respect for the thousand year history of balsamic vinegar that Italian vineyard growers join with producers at Villa Bellentani to develop quality aged balsamic vinegar that holds to the timeless traditions of Italy’s finest producers.
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Americans discovered balsamic vinegar in the 1980’s, but it was tradition passed down from father to son over many centuries that resulted in the ‘overnight success’ of the finest vinegars the world has ever known.
The same country that brought you such notable artists as Michelangelo and Leonardo da Vinci as part of the Renaissance also provides a culinary artistry that offers incomparable quality and taste – the wonderfully adaptable aged balsamic vinegar, aceto balsamico di Modena.
It is certain that such taste has value far beyond the purchase price. Long standing Italian history comes into focus when the balsamic vinegars of Villa Bellentani are tasted and found worthy to attain the ranks of the ‘world’s finest’.
Producers around the world have attempted to duplicate the Modena balsamic vinegar, but few pay regard to the tradition and taste that find customers willing to pay hundreds and even thousands of dollars for well aged blends. It is a shame to see something so precious treated in such a common way by many who will claim a product of comparable quality. In truth, much of what sells as balsamic vinegar is little more than common vinegar mixed with caramelized brown sugar. Yet in Carpi there’s a wooden cask of balsamic vinegar that has aged for more than a decade, and one day some of the precious liquid inside could find its way to your table. Your eyes will close and you take in an appreciative breath, for the taste was worth the wait.
The pace of life in Carpi is a world removed from most urban cultures. Perhaps it is that slower pace that is beneficial when you discover the difference in well aged balsamic vinegar in the grand tradition of Italy. Villa Bellentani a family estate producer seeks to fill that void.