The Giusti family are in a unique position. They have been making balsamic in the traditional way, not just for family use but in quantities to sell, for over 400 years. They are the oldest and most awarded producer of balsamic and have an unrivalled selection of aged barrels still in use.
Giusti select good quality Trebbiano and Lambrusco grapes and slowly reduce the grape juice in copper kettles until it is thick, dark and sweet. No caramel is added to sweeten and colour it - this is the industrial way to mimic age. Giusti do not reduce by speedy pressurisation either, as do many industrial producers of balsamic.
Giusti add only good quality wine vinegar to the cooked grape must, and then age it in traditional barrels of various woods - juniper, cherry, oak, ash, and mulberry. Each wood infuses the balsamic with its own unique flavour and aroma. Giusti have over 1000 barrels in use - 600 of which are over 200 years old. Many industrial producers have only a few barrels and large, stainless steel silos.
As the balsamic ages, it ferments, and the liquid evaporates. Each barrel is then topped up with balsamic from another barrel of different wood. Because each barrel contains a blend of vinegars from other barrels, it is impossible to truthfully determine the age of the balsamic in any one particular barrel. An age on a bottle of balsamic is therefore a false marketing ploy for the unaware.
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