The Vinegar Diaries - Part 3 - The Rest of the Story
“It was so simple it had to work…” and up until then, it did. The idea blew up once I picked up the smallest barrel and realized I never took into account just how much they weighed. They looked so small and manageable in that cute little acetaia where the idea was first hatched. I knew I was in Trouble (yeah, capital T) when I saw Patty’s stare which screamed: “are you (expletive deleted) crazy?” But …. I knew if ‘we’ could pull it off it would be one of those landmark adventures for the ages. To shorten the long story let’s just say, we pulled it off. One taxi, two trains, a grossly oversized baggage check-in at the airport (to this day I remain indebted to my friend at the Venice airport), ending with a jaw dropping entry into the US where 200 lbs. of barrels rolled up, over, and across the baggage carousel at JFK airport … and ‘voila’, we have our barrels!
Smiling now but next time I’ll just pay and have them delivered.
The five barrels are currently resting comfortably on the porch at Live Well Farm where in 2018 they enter their fifth year of aging our classic Italian balsamic vinegar. It’s a 12-year process so the final product is still in-work. We take an eye dropper sized sample each year to check the progress and …. It is amazing; fragrant, viscous, and full of incredible flavor. Maybe it wasn’t such a bad idea after all.
1. 5 different sized barrels made of different woods
2. Only Trebbiano or Lambrusco grapes
3. Grape juice is heated to reduce volume to 50% thus intensifying flavor and increasing viscosity
4. Initially, all barrels are filled to 75% capacity allowing air facilitate fermentation and evaporation
5. Each October the liquid is moved down one barrel in descending order to refill to 75% capacity
6. Only the largest barrel receives fresh grape juice
7. Time in each barrel imparts the essence of different woods and produces a unique flavor profile