“…un pranzo senza Balsamico è come un giorno senza sole”
(a meal without balsamic vinegar is like a day without the sun)
– An old saying from traditional Modena
In the small town of Magreta di Formigine, not far from the city of Modena, is where you will find this unique “acetaia” (vinegar factory). In a rustic brick farmhouse, which occupies ten hectares of lush vineyards, the past four generations of the Leonardi family have kept traditions alive since 1871.
The province of Modena within the region of Reggio Emilia, Italy, is renowned for the production of balsamic vinegar as well as other gourmet produce such as Parmigiano Reggiano cheese and Proscuitto di Parma.
This geographical area plays a vital role in the condiment’s production. The special climate of this region enables the grapes to ferment and mature. The harsh summer heat and intense cold winters create an impact that suits the condition and process needed for the grapes to be turned into vinegar. The grapes are all grown on the surrounding farm of “Campi Macri”. The majority of grapes include varieties of Trebbiano (white grape) and Lambrusco (red grape). The whole production takes place at the same factory and is repeated continuously each year.
With secrets handed down from generations and traditional methods meticulously implemented, it is no wonder the quality of Leonardi Balsamic is second to none. From the picking of the grapes to the final stage of bottling this velvety smooth liquid gold, Leonardi deliver nothing but quality products. So much so, that Leonardi’s vinegar was served for Prince William and Kate’s Royal Wedding reception in 2011.
The artisan showroom at Leonardi enables you to purchase and sample the many different varieties and ages of balsamic vinegar. Each bottle is genuine and contains only cooked grape must (mosto d’uva cotto) and wine vinegar. There are no additives, preservatives or sugars added, unlike the balsamic vinegar we find in the supermarkets.
Guided tours are also available at Leonardi and can be booked via the website. This is a great way to understand the 6-phase process of the traditional techniques used in the production of balsamic vinegar of Modena. Learn about the importance of temperature, the relevance of flavoring and witness where the barrels are stored throughout the farmhouse, some for more than 30 years. Our tour also enabled us to taste a balsamic vinegar that had been aged for 100 years! It coated your mouth with an intensely sweet and sour flavor. There was definitely a distinct difference between these variously aged barrels of vinegar. They were thicker and richer in flavor and consistency as they aged.
Balsamic vinegar is an important part of any gourmet table. A delicate and exclusive flavoring that is extremely versatile in everyday cooking. Not only for salads, balsamic vinegar is a perfect accompaniment to vegetables, roasts, fish and especially strawberries.
After completing the informative tour at Leonardi, I have learned to appreciate this unique condiment and acknowledge exactly how much hard work and dedication it takes to produce just one small, authentic bottle of Balsamic Vinegar of Modena.
Below is an example of what is included in the deluxe tour (Basic tours are also available. Tours need to be arranged by reservation only. Open 7 days/week. All tours are available in Italian/English/French)
Greedy Tour: Full guided tour + tasting of balsamic vinegar + buffet lunch of typical products
Tour duration 45-60 minutes. Basic information about the grapes used, a full tour of all rooms: cooking room, must (thickened grape juice) decanting room, ageing rooms. Tasting of minimum 2 types of balsamic directly from the wood barrels, including a 100-year-old balsamic. After the tour, buffet lunch inside or outdoor with the typical produce of Modena (Parmigiano cheese, cured meat, typical bread, pizza, and Lambrusco wine).
Address: Via Mazzacavallo, 62, 41043 Magreta MO, Italy
Phone: +39 059 554375
Open: 7 days 8.30am to 7pm
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