A fascinating trip to Andalucía
We hope everyone is having a wonderful summer so far! We’ve been back in the UK for a couple of months after paying a visit to Andalucía to see the team at the Bodegas Navarro Correas. This is a winery in the small town of Montilla which supplies us with our fantastic range of aged balsamic vinegars.
We were made to feel most welcome at the winery, which is just south of the impressive Moorish city of Córdoba. Wine and sherry has been made there since 1830, and it was the first vineyard to develop a Tio Pepe-style light dry sherry. More recently, they have been turning their talents to aged balsamic vinegars, derived solely from the Pedro Ximénez grape.
The process of balsamic making explained
We learned that this particular variety is grown locally, with the grapes only harvested when they are fermenting on the vine. The winery has a member of staff who, by tasting alone, can judge when the alcohol content has reached 12 per cent.
It was explained that, while making a traditional dark balsamic vinegar, the grapes are harvested and laid out in the sun for two weeks. This gives them a strong raisin flavour. Having been pressed, the juice is then reduced by boiling, which leaves a thick, flavoursome liquid known as arrope. In fact, we sell arrope as a special cooking ingredient – labelled El Secreto de Chef, or The Chef’s Secret!
White and dark appeal to different palates
But when it comes to the white balsamic vinegar, the juice is pressed and reduced while the grape is still fresh. The resulting flavours are very different, with the fruity white balsamic in contrast to the dark rich raisin flavour of the traditional variety.
The next stage of the process for the white balsamic is carefully storing the concentrated juice in old American Oak barrels to age and oxidise into vinegar. No sugar is added during the process, so all the sweetness is derived wholly from the natural sugars found within the grape.
Meanwhile, all the alcohol is converted to vinegar.
We’ve got a busy few months ahead of us with lots of shows on the agenda.
Next month we will be at The Chatsworth Country Fair at Chatsworth, Bakewell, Derbyshire from September 4 to September 6.
We next will be at the Weald of Kent Craft & Design show at Penhurst Place, Penhurst, Kent from September 11 to 13.
And at the end of the month we will be in Suffolk for theAldeburgh Food and Drink Festival from September 26-27 at Snape Maltings, Snape.
For a fuller list of all the events we’re attending this year, visit our website atwww.casadeloli.com.
You’ll be able to buy our products at any of these events and, if you can’t make it to any of these exhibitions, you can always buy online atwww.casadeloli.com or you can call us on 01394 448600 to make a purchase.
And just before going to print, we read this in the news: We’ve known it for years, but a study carried out for the BBC’s Trust Me, I’m A Doctor has shown that olive oil is the best kind to cook with!
Read more about the research and the programme here.
A quarter of a century in the making
We were shown the barrels stacked in three rows, one above the other. The top row contains the most recent juice, while the lowest row has the oldest vinegars. Each barrel remains in the cellar for 25 years, after which the vinegar is finally bottled.
Seeing the care and devotion put into the making of this product reinforced our opinion that this is probably one of the best aged balsamic vinegars anywhere in the world, and at a very reasonable price. To take a look at the balsamic vinegars we offer, click here.
An exquisite ten-year-old sherry vinegar
At the end of our visit, we had a tasting of their new ten-year-old sherry vinegar. We were blown away by it, and decided there and then to add some to our order. The stock is now in!