Founded in 1871 in Magreta di Formigne, a few miles north of the town of Modena, Acetaia Leonardi is run by Giovanni Leonardi and his son, Francesco. The Leonardi's respect for tradition, their skill and their dedication to the art of aceto balsamico result in vinegars consistently rated outstanding within the consortium.
Authentic traditional balsamic vinegar is made from boiled grape must that undergoes natural fermentation and slow acetification, followed by a long aging process in wood casks. Balsamic starts with cooking the juice of the white Trebbiano grapes--the must--over an open wood fire. As the must cooks down, the sugar level rises as the water evaporates and the flavor intensifies. The fermentation begins when previously aged balsamic vinegar is added to the must.
As times goes by, and according to the taste and palate of individual producers such as Giovanni Leonardi, the fermenting liquid is transferred to progressively smaller barrels. This sequence of barrels of different sizes and woods, such as oak, walnut, ash, acacia, chestnut, mulberry, etc., is known as a "batteria." A batteria could consist of as few as three barrels and as many as ten. Part of each barrels’contents - but never all of it - is decanted to the next smaller barrel, again based on the judgement of the producer. For years the vinegar goes through what is called maturation in the middle part of batteria, then enters the aging phase in the last few barrels.
The 3 year balsamic is excellent in salad dressings, for deglazing a pan and serving with meats, or tossed with roasted vegetables.