Between the late ’70’s and early ‘80’s Giorgio Lungarotti decided to take on the production of a condiment which would be a good pairing with wine, since the use of lemon juice or vinegar was decidedly not a happy match. Thus was born the idea for a condiment inspired by the ancient tradition of cooking grape must which in central Italy goes back to Etruscan times. Using a centuries-old ferment he started producing “Balsamic grape sauce” now known as “Balsamic Condiment”. The very first series of aging barrels was placed in the attic of the old warehouses belonging to the Lungarotti farm, in the center of Torgiano, which were ideal due to the wide temperature fluctuations throughout the year.
In the early 2000’s, the municipality of Torgiano requested the demolition of these warehouses to build a road so the balsamic aging cellar was transferred to the attic of the company’s new agricultural centre surrounded by vineyards. This is where our Balsamic condiment rests for more than 12 years, acquiring the aromatic complexity and colour which are its distinctive trademarks.
Today our balsamic cellar contains about 210 small casks, of which 120 large oak casks (225 and 250 litres – 60 and 66 gallons) where the condiment remains for the first two years, then about 90 other casks subdivided into 10 artisan-made series in different types of wood: oak, chestnut, cherry, ash, locust, pear, mulberry and juniper. Because the initial quantity of condiment constantly decreases due to evaporation, which also concentrates it, these series of small casks decrease in size from 75 litres (20 gallons) to 5 litres (1.3 gallons) respectively. The bung hole of each cask is covered with pristine swatches of hand-cut cotton which allow oxygen exchange with the external air, letting the must breath and facilitating the proper maturation process.
BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE METHOD
The must of our white grapes (Trebbiano and Grechetto harvested in the second half of September) is obtained just after the grapes are delivered to the winery, then filtered and cooked slowly over a bain-marie for at least 12 – 24 hours at 70°C. Cooking over a bain-marie allows us to maintain greater fluidity of the product compared to cooking over direct heat, which produces a more viscous liquid.
As it simmers the must is reduced by about 84-85% of the initial quantity: this means that with 100kg (26.5 gallons) of must we obtain 15-16 litres (4-4.2 gallons) of cooked must.
After cooling the must is poured into the larger oak casks where it remains for two years during which it begins the process of becoming balsamic condiment. The product is then racked to the smaller artisanal casks of progressively smaller capacities that make up the “batteries”, or series. Since the liquid evaporates over time, the smaller casks are topped up with product from the cask that is just before it in the series. The smallest casks in juniper wood are the final ones in each battery and from these we extract our ”IL”, after a total aging period of more than 12 years.
The procedure for producing Balsamic Grape Condiment 250ml is the same one used for “IL” but with only 5 years of aging in wood.