Valerio Bellini´s first contact with Balsamic Vinegar was completely by random. He hails from a family of wine producers and started producing Balsamic vinegar more than a century ago. Valerio´s relocation to Reggio Emilia brought him closer to the world of Balsamic Vinegar and his rediscovering of the grapes that he recalls from his childhood. Feretti Corradini, the artisianal vinegar factory is a union of two families who have been carrying out the long laborious process of creating one of the region´s best Balsamic Vinegars.
Margaux: What are your goals for 2020 ?
Valerio: In July 2019, we had started to enlargen the vinegar factory, in the Via Emilia between the cities of Modena and Reggio Emilia. By next spring we will be ready with our larger space and a brand new tasting room, created specifically to allow friends, enthusiasts and customers to taste our vinegars with a view of our vineyards! The reception area will become the foundation of our work, and we are already planning to hold events directly in the vinegar factory and in the external spaces. We feel the need to pass on the our tradition and above all the history of a product that the world envies us for.
Margaux: When we were at Extraordinary Food and Wine 2018, in Venice, you had given me a vinegar tasting. Can you tell our readers, about the different vinegars that you produce, their uses and where you sell them ? Do you have an online shop ?
Valerio: High quality handcrafted products, using only local raw materials without artificially forcing refinement times which can vary from 50 months of the youngest product to over 50 years for Family Reserves. The limited quantities bottled annually are synonymous with absolute craftsmanship, the pursuit of product perfection without getting involved with modernity and fashions. The Reggiana tradition of balsamic vinegar has been recognized since 1040, where at the court of Matilde di Canossa there were the presence of some casks of this precious condiment. We are proud to be producer partners of the CONSORTIUM FOR THE PROTECTION OF TRADITIONAL BALSAMIC VINEGAR FROM REGGIO EMILIA, where we confer our best reserves that will be bottled in the 3 classic labels, ARAGOSTA LABEL (minimum 12 years of aging), SILVER LABEL (about 20 years of aging) and our GOLD LABEL EXTRAVECCHIO (over 25 years of aging) We produce in larger quantities balsamic dressings with aging of 50 months or 72 months for daily use in combination with cooked or raw vegetables, or cheese and meat. The most refined vinegars are used exclusively, a few drops of product can enhance the taste of the dish! We don’t think only of the classic combinations with Parmigiano Reggiano or strawberries, an omelette or a risotto are also a great match, as well as red fruit. I love strawberries and raspberries with our Extravecchio !!! The younger products lend themselves to short cooking, to flavor roasts and braised, great dishes of local cuisine. Just last week I made arrangements with an image and web agency, with whom we started talking about e-commerce. Another goal for 2020, in order to allow customers who visit us to buy their favorite balsamic vinegar at any time!
Margaux: What interests most people today are the culinary uses of a product. What are some of the uses of your balsamic vinegars ?
Valerio: Our products are designed for daily use, salad and vegetables for our younger balsamic, shellfish and important meat for the most refined. The balsamic lover is a person who would put him anywhere, even outside the usual patterns or historical combinations. And the various balsamic vinegars lend themselves very well to these improvisations! Margaux: Of course, we do not expect you to give away your secrets, however, just very briefly, how is the balsamic vinegar aged and are there any other ingredients added to the process ?
Valerio: Only 3 ingredients: Cooked must of local grapes, the slow passing of the seasons …. the cold winters and the torrid summers, barrels of different wood essences. There are no secrets, the top floor of the vinegar factory (the environment most sensitive to temperature changes) completes the work. Ah, I forgot …..
So much patience, to get a balsamic of good viscosity and ample bouquet you need at least 15 years of aging, 15 years of care on the part of the conductor and 15 passages in barrels of different capacities and wood essences (oak, cherry, juniper, chestnut) to capture of each of them the particularities and have a complete olfactory and tasting bouquet
Margaux: If money were not a problem, tell us about your gastronomic dream trip and why you would select this destination.
I have traveled the world very little, I admit that I still have some difficulties with fear of flying and unfortunately my spare time is also scarce. However, I promised my family that the future will certainly be more “eventful”. I wouldn’t want to be biased or too tied to the territory. However, when it comes to gastronomy I think of our region, Emilia Romagna as a land of traditions and its dishes are famous, all over the world! I’m imagining an ideal tour in these areas. I have friends who produce fantastic wines and not just Lambrusco, and we both know Flos, Cecilia Lanzani and Denis Beggi, who have a small local saffron cultivation company of the highest quality. And then the first fruits! Emilia is experiencing a Renaissance or comeback, with its variety of products, exceptional raw materials, and special people who know how to create unique excellences in the world! It will be a pleasure to welcome you to our lands, where tradition, friendliness and hospitality are truly a foundation for us!
Thank you very much Valerio. A true pleasure.