The Family Vecchi produces Aceto Balsamico Tradizionale di Modena Dop ( abbreviation : ABTM Dop ) since some generations. The grandparents and great-grandparents were farmers and they owned only few groups of barrels for private use. Vecchi Secondo (born 1930) always fond of this product, decides, around the Fifties, together with his father Egidio and their wives, to change life and job. They move from the country to a little village opening a little food-shop, than a “Trattoria” with food-selling, than in 1961 a “Restaurant”, which in the years progressively will be very much appreciated and renowned. In the meanwhile the ABTM continues its maturing and Secondo Vecchi keeps adding barrels and casks. He increases the production, yet believing in something that the plurality simply do not know.When the quantity can afford the use of it, not just inside the family, Maria Livia starts to create dishes using their Aceto Balsamico Tradizionale di Modena and this finally appears on the tables of the restaurant. Already around 1970 they are pioneers in promoting this jewel of our tradition.From the family restaurant they build the bases for a little retailing of ABTM dop Bompana. The name Bompana is derived from the land where vineyard, house and the family Acetaia, raise. Until 2001 the family runs both the Restaurant (Baia del Re) and the agrifirm Bompana. Then in 2002 the family simply chooses to maintain only the Acetaia and enlarges the varieties of product ( Food condiments, Balsamita, Balsaba, Armonia di Balsamita ….) the Shop is finally opened. Now we are at your disposition to let you taste our inheritance …aren’t you curious ???
History of Aceto Balsamico Tradizionale di Modena
Historically, before the importation of sugar-cane and sugar-beet, people in Europe used to sweeten the food with honey or with cooked grape-juice, i.e. the “mosto cotto” made simply by cooking and reducing on fire the juice of grape (without seeds and peels ) to get a natural syrup called SABA. During Middle-Age, land properties, and therefore the vineyards, were exclusively owned by religious orders or noblemen. The history tells that, per chance, monks discovered the natural feature of our Saba, ( less cooked and forgotten in wood-barrels for longtime ) to ferment and acetify without special help ( thanks to particular bacteria and enzymes colonies naturally contained in it ). Those peculiarities brought Modenese men to arrange a wise method of pouring and refilling meant to obtain a superb Vinegar. At the beginning it was used for medicinal purposes, that’s the origin of the name Balsamico, ( Balsamo = scented substance used for medical help …) it becomes really much appreciated on the tables of the Dukes, aristocrats and rich landholders.The most ancient written evidences date of year 1046 d.c. At the end of the 1700, after the auction-sale of the ducal acetaia, many barrels were moved to Piedmont ( and there lost for bad-maintenance) and part of them simply sold or acquired by more simple families which maintained the knowledge of its production until today. HERE’S AN OBVIOUS QUESTION !!!!! …And what about Balsamico since that far period ??? If we attentively think about it, we do not remember until the 1980/85 to have seen so many bottles of Balsamico in every corner of the world and on every shelf of the supermarket !!!! So what about it !!???? IN FACT we must explain that THE Producer of ABTM dop ( and we are talking of the natural product, only derived through the ageing of cooked grape-juice …only one ingredient and a lot of Time !!!! ) is first a passionate, devoted to traditions and only in the long time his hobby happens to become some sort of income.It is really common to meet people, even born in Modena, that do not know this kind of Balsamico. If you’re not related with some producer or if you’re not an appreciator informed on this world, it is possible you’ve never tasted the difference. Modenese families in the past used to keep small quantities of their best aged Aceto Balsamico Tradizionale di Modena only for special occasion, e.g….Christmas day, Marriages, Births and arranged ceramic bottles (“Tragni”) to gift the priest or the family doctor….Then barrels were passed in dowry or in heritage, from generation to generation. During the Sixties, for the first time, many enthusiasts and small producers created a coterie, than a consortium and started to codify the rules, submitted themselves to controls to have a insurance of great quality and began to promote in many ways the Aceto Balsamico Tradizionale di Modena which obtained first the DOC and than the DOP certification. Among those persons, some were restaurant-owners, and VECCHI SECONDO was one of the most active organizers. He increased the number of barrels, believing more and more in the necessity to let people know about his wonderful product. Insofar in the early Seventies, ABTM Bompana started to be used in the kitchen of the restaurant and moved the first steps towards selling in bottles.Since then, Bompana is known as one of the best agricultural producers of long aged Aceto Balsamico Tradizionale di Modena Dop.
Ancient method of production
Essential conditions to produce ACETO BALSAMICO TRADIZIONALE DI MODENA D.O.P ( Maturation, aging and refining for a period of not less than 12 years) and ACETO BALSAMICO TRADIZIONALE DI MODENA EXTRAVECCHIO D.O.P.( Maturation, aging and refining for a period of not less than 25 years):
-A vineyard to produce autochthon grapes ( in our vineyard are certified grapes of Trebbiano, Ancelotta, Lambrusco) specially devoted to make cooked grape-juice;
-An under roof mansard where barrels can rest;
-Groups of barrel ( in shelves or in lines ) of increasing capacity ( chosen among different kind of wood, but Chestnut, Oak and Mulberry–wood are the most common and the preferred ones. Cherry, Juniper, Ash-tree, Acacia are used too.);
-Patience and craftsmanship of the Master Producer..
Starting from the, not simple, production of cooked most ( by cooking in open boiler just the pure juice of grapes, without seeds and peels, up to 100°C and slowly reducing it for hours even to the 50/60% of its volume ) we do prepare a certain quantity, even three years before, and we lay it in barrels to acetify as a starting base liquid or mother to use in our group of barrels. We must specify that our cooked most never becomes a wine, because we cook it down immediately during the harvesting and we never let it ferment before. The cooked grape-juice made with our special grapes and left to rest in open wood-barrels, has the property to develop naturally another kind of fermentation, thanks also to the special weather conditions of the area. This will be a sort of fermentation and oxidation joined that involves typical colonies of bacteria and enzymes contained in the juice.
Back to our new born group, we must fill all the five barrels of cooked-grape juice prepared (we suppose to start in February 1990 ). In every barrel fermentation, concentration, wood-absorption of liquid, sometimes leaking and especially evaporation, will happen all through the warm period, so in February 1991 we will proceed to the first refilling. If we name the smallest barrel nr.1 and we give names of numbers to the increasing of the volume, we will understand easily that a certain quantity of lost liquid in nr.1 should be replaced with a part of barrel nr. 2, this one will then be refilled with nr.3 ….and so on until we arrive to the last barrel of the group, the bigger and, even if it will be not totally empty, we must refill it as well. There, in nr. 5, we must add the new cooked-must, made in the last harvest and concentrated up to 50% by natural cooking.
This refilling is made every year, once a year, for all the life of the barrels, even passing the time of the producer’s life and so once started it can be continued through generations even for centuries.Naturally it’s a craft work !!!
The real ABTM dop, recognizable as really worthy, needs minimum 12 years of refilling without any withdrawal. This means that in our example, since 1990, is made only the refilling once a year until 2002 and then in February, before making the refilling of that year, we can have the first 10-20 bottles of Aceto Balsamico Tradizionale di Modena Dop to sell,not more ….it is really a limited quantity after all that time, but truly a great taste !!!
Than in 2003 another liter will be available, and so on reminding the necessity to refill only the last barrel of the line. If we do continue at least for 25 years, in 2015 we will have a limited quantity of ABTM dop Extravecchio Bompana !!! Every lot of production is bottled only after the assent of the corporate body of certification and the evaluation through score after the taste of the Expert Tasters ; so controls, analysis and tasting are made by third parts and bottling too. This passion job, has been made from the Family Vecchi at first only for private use, than, adding more barrels, the production can afford the selling to customers, but the quantity remains limited. It took and it takes time, patience and love for it. Thanks to the whole family but especially to Maria and Secondo Vecchi for the strong will of it.
Now it is time for you to taste it !!
Coming from generations of restaurateurs and cooks, we assure you that the following recipes have been tested for years and never failed. The use of ABTM dop gently suits from the appetizer to the dessert and ends helping the digestion if sipped after meal. But for those who are doubtful, the best suggestion is the following one : keep very close to you on the table the Bompana bottle and try drops of it on your favourite food…you may end up with successful marriages!!
THE AGE OF ACETO BALSAMICO TRADIZIONALE DI MODENA :
Considering the productive method which includes extravasations, refilling and pouring among barrels to be done every year, the Italian food law does not allow to write the age of the bottled ABTM dop. Usually we describe the age of activity of the group of barrels but this is never meant to be the age of the product. Everyday in our Acetaia is always possible and kindly recommended the tasting of the various kind of ABTM Dop and Condiments, as to tender you the aware choice of your Bompana’s best and preferred.